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


The Solemnity of the Annunciation and Back Porch Dining
March 27, 2012, 1:36 pm
Filed under: Annunciation, Feasting, Husband | Tags: , ,

Just a quick post of instagrams today. We’ve been fighting colds at our house and life is busy, busy.

For the Solemnity of the Annunciation, I made Sweet Potato and Carrot Lentil Curry Soup and Spelt-Flour, Dairy-free biscuits (hello, bacon grease!) for Benjamin and my gluten intolerance and his dairy allergies.

It’s been so beautiful outside that last night I set up a table on our back porch for dinner. Benjamin thought it was mighty fine to eat outside and when Lucy and I woke up this morning, the boys had breakfast prepared on the back porch for round two of eating outside.

Days when you wake up next to your sweet baby, stumble bleary-eyed out of your bedroom, are immediately handed a cup of miraculously delicious coffee by your handsome husband and are treated to German apple pancakes, fruit, and granola on the back porch are…well…splendid.

Gluten-free, Dairy-free success! And North Florida this time of year is simply gorgeous.

Oh, glorious Spanish Moss! I’m feeling very grateful despite all the runny noses in our household…

How is your family enjoying springtime?




I’ve Got Greens and the Terrible Threes Growing in My Garden

Here’s what’s been going on outdoors in our neck of the woods:

Lots of park dates and outside play for this little guy. Baby girl is content to just sleep in the baby wrap with Mama while Little Bear gets his wiggles out. Although the terrible threes subsided a little bit in the past couple of weeks (perhaps due to extra time with Daddy during our trip), they were back in full force yesterday. You know the mother you see at the park that is carrying an infant and attempting to wrangle a misbehaving toddler? A toddler that is screaming, I WON’T! I DON’T WANT TO! when she asks him to throw away his trash, then succumbs to sobs when a kind park user cleans it up in his stead and he screams, “BUT I WANTED TO THROW IT AWAY! GET IT OUT OF THE TRASH SO I CAN DO IT! *SOB*”? That mother? The one that makes you say to your friend, “she has HER hands full. A little discipline? I would be mortified if MY child ever behaved like that!” Well, I am that mother. Nice to meet you. I now sympathize with all mothers of children who misbehave in public.

After a full-fledged meltdown in the car and an early nap, Benjamin surprised me by saying, “Hey, Mama. You know what? I love you.” He doesn’t usually say that out of the blue. Made the difficult morning worth it. Thankfully, he’s been good as gold today.

Our vegetable garden is exploding with wonderful things!

Bright Light Swiss Chard has to be one of the prettiest things ever!

Tomato flowers already! I can’t wait to eat tomatoes with every meal. Daniel has grown so many seedlings of different varieties.

We’ve been eating all the lettuce we can handle. Picking lettuce for salad 10 minutes before dinner time is so fun.

Cabbages are looking lovely!

My farmer.

This was our St. Patrick’s Day feast. Guinness Beef Stew made by Daniel, Spring Salads from the garden with Strawberries, and amazing Sweet Potato Fries by our friend Kaitlin.

What are you growing in your garden these days?



The Bounty of the Earth
March 1, 2012, 5:15 pm
Filed under: Farm Life, Feasting, Green Living, Husband, Seasons

My husband is a farmer without a farm. So, he has transformed our front yard into vegetable-growing-egg-laying-awesomeness. I don’t remember the last time we had to get store-bought eggs. The ones our chickens Feven, Daughter, and Gas Can lay (chicken names compliments of 3-year-old Benjamin) are amazing.

Right now we’ve growing more delicious lettuce than we could ever eat, peas, green onions, and wonderful herbs: dill, rosemary, cilantro, parsley, thyme.

I made seriously good chicken salad last night and it made the last day of February feel like summer. Oh wait, we live in Florida. The last day of February DOES feel like summer.

And strawberries are super in season so now’s the time to eat some up!

Here’s one more shot of our owl friend who likes to hang around to give the chickens a little excitement for the day.

And for sticking around until the end of the post, a sweet baby picture to tide you over until next time.



The Big Ol’ Catholic Reading List
February 21, 2012, 4:15 pm
Filed under: Books, Husband, Prayers, Rosary, Saints | Tags: , , , ,

Ok, so it’s not that big and it’s definitely not in the ballpark of comprehensive (would that even be possible?). But, in response to a reader’s request for resources on Catholic teaching, Catholic motherhood, Catholic blogs, and books that influenced our decision to convert, here’s…well, something. It’s off the top of my head with a couple suggestions and notes from Daniel. I would LOVE your suggestions and recommendations for additions!

CATHOLIC TEACHING/CATHOLIC THOUGHT:

(Daniel’s note regarding recommended reading for Catholic thought that also influenced our conversion:

“Read the Church Fathers, beginning with Ignatius of Antioch. Before I was Catholic, I thought that the Protestant Reformation was necessary because of a steady decline that had taken place in the Church from its very beginning. I thought that everything would be great if we could just get back to the Early Church. But I figured we just didn’t have a record of that time. Turns out, we do. Ignatius of Antioch lived in the first century and was martyred in the beginning of the second so his writing held a lot of weight with me. When I read his letters, I was quite surprised by what I found. Over and over again, he emphasizes loyalty to the bishops; an idea that was totally foreign to me. He spoke of the Church as a single organization with a hierarchy and chain of command. He also spoke of the Eucharist with great reverence and called it the ‘medicine of immortality.’

Continuing through the centuries… St. Augustine, St. Maximus the Confessor, St. Anselm. With these guys, it wasn’t so much a particular argument they made that drew me to the church. Instead, it was the continuity that exists over the centuries in their writings. This flew in the face of my idea that there was a ‘falling away’ from the truth. Quite the opposite, their was unbroken consistency of thought and teaching that existed from the early church all the way up to the contemporary Catholic Church. Maximus emphasizes this continuity (albeit in the 7th century).”)

A good place to start is with The Epistles of St. Clement of Rome and St. Ignatius of Antioch. There’s a good Paulist Press edition. Also worth reading are: The Prayers and Meditations of St. Anselm, Confessions or the Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Love of St. Augustine, and Selected Writings of Maximus Confessor.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church—doesn’t get much better than this. Confession: I haven’t read the whole thing. Maybe remedying that should (obviously?) be one of my Lenten devotions.

Signs of Life by Scott Hahn—Daniel and I read this together during Lent two years ago. There are 40 chapters so it’s perfect for lenten reading.  Dr. Hahn is also a convert and this book is a beautiful introduction to Catholic sacraments, sacramentals, and practices. Hahn includes many, many Scripture references in his chapters which is always helpful to those of us coming from a Protestant background.

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton—Just awesome. Everything Chesterton writes is delightfully funny and painfully true.

On Being Catholic by Thomas Howard: Written by a convert, this book explains facets of the Catholic faith and Catholic worldview and dispells minunderstandings of the Catholic faith that might arise coming from a Protestant worldview.

On Loving God by St. Bernard of Clairvaux—Following in the footsteps of St. Augustine, this medieval saint writes beautifully. I am a medievalist at heart and I just love St. Bernard. Here’s an example: “Faith certainly bids me love him all the more whom I regard as that much greater than I, for he not only gives me myself, he also gives me himself.”

Why Do Catholics Eat Fish on Friday?: The Catholic Origin to Just About Everything by Michael P. Foley—Written by one of our Baylor profs, this is a delightful read.

And if you’re up for something dense but amazing—any of the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.

CONVERSIONS:

Return to Rome by Francis Beckwith—Dr. Beckwith’s story of his reversion to Catholicism after becoming Protestant and being President of the Evangelical Theological Society.

Crossing the Tiber by Stephen RayPart I is his conversion story from Protestantism and Parts II and III are on Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.

Confessions by St. Augustine—the ultimate conversion story.

The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton—Another good conversion story highlighting the working of God’s grace guiding us, even when we are unaware.

Apologia Pro Vita Sua by the Blessed John Henry Newman—The spiritual autobiography of a former Anglican. Confession: I haven’t read this one, but Daniel really liked it.

CATHOLIC PRAYER AND DEVOTION:

St. Benedict’s Prayer Book—We love using this for morning and evening prayer for our family.

An Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales—Exhortations to holiness through prayer and examination of conscience by a wonderful saint of the Church.

The Rosary: Keeping Company with Jesus and Mary by Karen Edmisten—Fantastic introduction to praying the Rosary. I’ve read it twice and it has helped me make the Rosary a frequent and familiar devotion in my spiritual life.

MOTHERHOOD:

Familiaris Consortio, Encyclical by the Blessed Pope John Paul II: This one definitely falls into the category of Catholic teaching but has much to say on motherhood and the family in modern life. I’m more than halfway through and loving it.

HAGIOGRAPHY:

Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset—Well-researched and beautifully written biography of St. Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset, another fellow convert to Catholicism.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, “The Dumb Ox” by G.K. Chesterton—Nobody writes biography as delightfully as Chesterton. A wonderful introduction to this great saint.

FICTION:

ANYTHING written by Flannery O’Connor. My favorite is The Violent Bear It Away.

(Daniel’s note: “This is hard to explain. Perhaps it was that she was a Southern author writing about the South. I guess she was able to translate her Catholicism into the language of my Southern Protestantism. I can’t really put my finger on it. Obviously, the sacraments are a huge part of her work, even when they are slightly hidden. There is a kind of radicalism in her stories that makes sense to me and I think is a core part of the Gospel message. There is a totality to it that I think is clearly shown in Catholic theology. She also helped me see that some of my objections to the Catholic Church were actually rooted in my modern, materialist perspective and not really in anything biblical.”) Warning: If you’ve never lived in the South…these works will be just about impossible to understand.

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh: THE 20th Century Catholic Novel. Wickedly funny and full of heartbreaking truth, Brideshead follows the working of God’s grace in the aristocratic Flyte family through the eyes of their friend Charles Ryder. I read it every year and the characters have become beloved companions. I can’t explain why, but I think this book influenced me to become Catholic more than any other.

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset: I’ve written about how much I love this saga before—how often do you find good medieval historical fiction? Kristin’s spiritual journey chronicled throughout the books is complex, beautiful, and worth reading.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (Daniel’s note: “I guess this is hard to explain, too. Maybe part of it was that I absolutely loved Tolkien and his worldview. So the fact that he was Catholic made me see Catholicism in a more positive light. There are also a lot of sacraments in his work. The Eucharist shows up all the time.”)

FAVORITE BLOGS BY CATHOLIC MOTHERS:

Karen Edmisten

Simcha Fisher

Elizabeth Foss

Kate Wicker

Kitchen Stewardship

Waltzing Matilda

CATHOLIC FOOD BLOGS:

Catholic Cuisine: Helpful in seeing what’s coming up in the liturgical year and has some wonderful ideas. Warning: most of the recipes are for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and other desserts made of white flour and sugar. Rarely is there a recipe that isn’t full of processed ingredients and tons of sugar, so there isn’t much that I actually want to cook for my family.

Feast!: Our Seasonal, Real Foods, Christian Year Celebrating (and very neglected) food blog.

What are your suggestions for MUST-READ books and resources on Catholic faith?

(p.s. Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a copy of the clothbound Penguin classic edition of Pride and Prejudice! It ends tomorrow at noon!)



Wanted: Your Natural Cold Remedies
February 12, 2012, 4:20 pm
Filed under: Books, Children, Giveaway, Health, Husband | Tags: , , , ,

Ironically, I’m a little bit awesome at going through childbirth without meds, but I’m a complete baby when it comes to dealing with the excruciating condition of having a cold. I think Raleigh’s final words in this clip kind of sum it up:

That little Tenenbaums reference was for my big brother who HATES Tenenbaum references. Just a little sibling banter. Cute, right?

First Benjamin got a runny nose which triggered his asthma. Breathing treatments weren’t enough to make the wheezing/coughing go away so Daniel had to take him to Urgent Care to get his oxygen levels checked and to get Prednisone. Daniel slept in his room last night to comfort him when he woke up coughing and to give him a 2am breathing treatment. Benjamin seems to be a little better today. Poor sweet boy!

Last night Lucy woke up coughing and sneezing and I woke up with what feels like a sinus infection. Not much sleep was to be had after that. I can tell that she’s not completely herself, but she’s still a precious, sunny, smiley baby today. I on the other hand, am a whining, miserable mama. So, since I’d like to try some natural remedies before taking anything over the counter since I’m still nursing Miss Lucy, I want all your cold/sinus infection natural remedies. Give them here! And in return…I think I’ll post a giveaway in the next couple of days that involves Miss Austen and those beautiful clothbound Penguin classics.

Carrots for Michaelmas is about to hit 20,000 views and 50 subscribers (as far as I can tell from Google Reader and WordPress, how can you really tell accurately?) so as a thanks to you guys, I think a Giveaway is in order.

My current plan to fight this monstrous cold is to drink unreasonable amounts of hot tea and all the raw garlic I can stand in between hot baths. Now let’s just hope that Daniel doesn’t get sick because then the household would REALLY fall apart.

p.s. Your recommendations of miniseries, etc currently streaming on Netflix would also be greatly appreciated. What’s the use of being miserable if you can’t watch a whole lotta Masterpiece Theatre?



Hogwarts (Finally!)
January 24, 2012, 6:45 pm
Filed under: Husband | Tags: , , , ,

Last week Daniel took me on a little getaway to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter–a vacation we’ve wanted to take since the park opened. We were all geared up to go last January but postponed our trip when we discovered I was pregnant with Lucy and couldn’t go on any of the rides.

Anyhow it was delightful. The Hogwarts ride is pretty awesome and it’s great fun to meander through Hogsmeade.

I think the best part for us was just hanging out in the Hog’s Head. I had cider and Daniel had their house beer which was great.

We had lunch in the Three Broomsticks which looks fantastic but the staff and the food were less than ideal (well…the turkey leg was awesome, but the cornish pasties tasted like hot pockets.) It was really hard not to say constantly, “Disney would have done this so much better.” I mean, how hard is it to have staff with British accents?

But, we did have a wonderful time together and Lucy was the best little traveler.

One great thing about Universal is that they have a fantastic child-swap system. One parent can ride while the other holds baby and then the second parent can ride as soon as the first is done. And the little waiting rooms are great for nursing.

I just wore her in the baby wrap all day and she napped great. She was fast asleep outside of Owl Post.

I guess I was just a little disappointed that Dame Maggie Smith wasn’t there ready to teach me Transfiguration.



Happy 27th, Daniel!
January 3, 2012, 2:13 pm
Filed under: Husband | Tags: , , ,

Happy 27th Birthday Apple Streusel Breakfast to the most wonderful husband and daddy!

This man. I am grateful for him every single day. Of the innumerable things I adore about him, I love that he is constantly creating. He writes poems and stories. He grows food from the ground. He bakes bread and cooks feasts. He builds beautiful things out of wood. And he loves his family and takes care of us. He works long hours so that I can stay home with our babies. He can calm infants, change diapers, build changing tables and learning towers, and makes our little girl smile and laugh like no one else can. He builds dinosaurs with our boy, tells him about the things that live and grow in the world around him, tucks him in at night, and teaches him about Our Precious Lord. He prays for us, asks Our Lady for protection for our family, leads us, loves us and above all grows ever more devoted to Christ Jesus, Our Lord. His love and friendship fills my life with grace and I can’t imagine sharing life with anyone else.

Happy Birthday, Daniel. We are the luckiest to have you leading our family. We love you so.