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


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 Feast of St. Patrick
March 17, 2012, 12:54 pm
Filed under: Feasting, Saints, St. Patrick | Tags: , ,

I hope you all have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day today! It is spring in North Florida and the outdoors are green in honor of one of my favorite saints. The dogwoods, azaleas, and wisteria are in bloom and the scent of flowers is downright intoxicating.

And here’s a little something from the archives about St. Patrick, why I love him so much, and a St. Patrick’s Feast we made with links to a couple of recipes for Irish Soda Bread and Nigella’s Guinness Chocolate Cake. Mmmmmm.

From St. Patrick’s Breastplate (an ancient prayer attributed to him)

Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ in my headway, Christ in my wake,

Christ alow and Christ aloft,

Christ at my right hand, Christ on my left,

Christ with me waking, waking and sleeping.

 

Christ in every heart thinks of me,

Christ in every tongue speaks to me,

Christ in every eye beholding,

Christ in every listening ear.

What’re your St. Patrick’s Day plans? We’re getting together with some friends to grill out and celebrate!



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!)



All Things Michaelmas!

I LOVE the Feast of the Archangels. We’ve got a feast planned, but, I’m 38 weeks pregnant today on Michaelmas, so you never know if we’ll be having a Michaelmas Baby instead of a Michaelmas Feast. Just in case I go into labor  and Michaelmas feasting gets skipped over this year, I thought I would compile some of the previous Michaelmas posts and some good resources I’ve found.

What is Michaelmas?

Michaelmas (pronounced Mickel-mas) is a feast day celebrating the Archangels. It follows 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. Michaelmas was a Holy Day of Obligation until the 18th century and honors St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael. My linguist husband particularly likes the name Michael which means in Hebrew “Who Is Like God?” and is the battle cry of the angels. St. Michael fought against Lucifer and the fallen angels and defended the friends of God. You probably remember that St. Gabriel announced the coming of Jesus to the Virgin Mary and also the coming of John the Baptist to Zachariah. St. Raphael is found in the book of Tobit.

Michaelmas Menus:

For a seasonal table for Michaelmas, think of autumnal foods. Usually our Michaelmas feast is full of beta-carotene.

Carrots are very traditional. According to a Scottish custom, women would harvest wild carrots on Michaelmas by digging triangular holes with a three-pronged mattock. Apparently the holes represent St. Michael’s shield and the mattock represents his trident.

Terrible iPhone pic from 2009. My apologies.

I love this Whiskey-Glazed Carrots recipe by The Pioneer Woman. I can’t help but love her. These are seriously amazing. Whiskey? Butter? Brown Sugar? Can you go wrong?

St. Michael's Bannock on the left!

Another traditional food is St. Michael’s Bannock, a simple, sweet bread. We’ve used the recipe from Meredith Gould’s The Catholic Home. It’s super easy and turns out well.

Goose is also very traditional but we’ve discovered that it’s almost impossible to find an organic goose that’s remotely in our price range. So, we’ve cooked turkeys or chickens for the occasion. Last year we roasted sweet potatoes and onions with the chicken which turned out so yummy. This year we have tons of delicious sweet potatoes from the garden so we’ll definitely do a repeat!

Blackberries: There’s a legend concerning Lucifer falling into a blackberry bush after being expelled from heaven by St. Michael and spitting on the blackberries to make them bitter so that they cannot be picked after Michaelmas.

On Michaelmas Day the devil puts his foot on the blackberries.

-Irish Proverb

We’ve had blackberry buckle and blackberry cobbler but since they’re not in season right now in Florida, we try to just get organic frozen berries.

Ugly photo, delicious cobbler, promise!

A super easy and yummy blackberry cobbler recipe is The Pioneer Woman’s.

A Michaelmas Prayer:

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Amen.

Michaelmas Daisies:

The aster flower, also known as the Michaelmas Daisy is in season in North America at the end of September. We meant to grow some from seed this year but…never got around to it. Last year Benjamin and I got beautiful mums (as seen in the picture at the top) and this year my two sweet boys picked beautiful Daisies they found and Bachelor’s Buttons and Marigolds from our garden:

What a pretty sight to wake up to on Michaelmas morning!

The Michaelmas daisies, among dede weeds,
Bloom for St Michael’s valorous deeds.
And seems the last of flowers that stood,
Till the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude.”

I can’t believe that two years ago, Benjamin was still a wee babe!

Just look at my grown up boy on this Michaelmas morning!

He’s still not into wearing pants, but my, he’s big and cute.

I guess I look a little different this year, too.

38 weeks and ready for Baby Lucy Elanor to arrive! Doesn’t a Michaelmas baby sound like a good idea?! C’mon, Lucy!

Michaelmas posts from other years:

Carrots for Michaelmas – September 29th

How the Michaelmas Feast Turned Out (2009)

Preparing for Michaelmas (2010)

The Feast of the Archangels: Michaelmas 2010



September 2011 Reads
September 3, 2011, 2:25 pm
Filed under: Books, Films, Pregnancy, Saints

I’m trying to put my feet up and read and relax whenever I get the chance these days. I can tell that my body is already gearing up for Baby Lucy’s arrival. On Thursday, after a 45 min. drive to GA, three hours of back-to-back teaching little ballerinas, and a 45 min. drive home, I started having TONS of Braxton-Hicks. I didn’t get out a watch to time them but we estimated that they were lasting about 10 seconds and coming every 2-3 minutes. After rehydrating with several glasses of water, eating a delicious dinner made by our housemates, and drinking a glass of red wine while relaxing in the bath tub, they went away and haven’t been back since. Sounds like I got dehydrated and over did it. I’ll be more careful next week. But I’ve have a premonition during the whole pregnancy that Baby Lucy is going to come a little bit early…now watch me be totally wrong and still waddling on November 1st. I do finally have a sense of “this is really happening!”

Anyhow, books. I finished Sigrid Undset’s Catherine of Siena and completely loved it. I wish there was a hagiography as wonderful for all the saints I want to learn about. Undset is a wonderful writer and a devout Catholic convert. The book is delightful and inspiring. Now I’m motivated to read the third book to finish the Kristin Lavransdatter saga, by Undset. Anybody have good recommendations about other books about saints?

I also finished Kathleen Norris’ The Cloister Walk, but mostly out of a drive to complete it and put it away rather than because I enjoyed it. I have to admit that I didn’t really like it. I discussed it briefly with my mom who read it many years ago and my conclusion was that Norris is more interested in the aesthetics of the Christian tradition for therapeutic purposes than in the actual pursuit of holiness under the authority of the Church. And she came across as rather smug most of the time which started to grate on me. The upside was that whenever I brought out the book Daniel starting singing, “Just a cloister walk with thee…”

I absolutely LOVED Beth Ann Fennelly’s Great with Child that my new friend Helen gave to me. A beautiful poetic collection of letters from Fennelly to a young expectant mother full of breathtaking reflections on pregnancy, miscarriage, and motherhood. I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s so poetic since Fennelly is, well, a poet. Loved it, loved it, loved it and passed it on to a pregnant friend.

I started re-reading St. Francis de Sales Introduction to the Devout Life during my weekly Holy Hour (our parish has Perpetual Adoration and Daniel and I recently have entered into the grace of a weekly hour with Jesus). I haven’t read it since becoming Catholic and just read it for a college class maybe 5 years ago. It’s interesting to see the notes I wrote in the margins a couple of years before we even starting considering becoming Catholic. St. Francis de Sales starts out explaining how important the Sacrament of Reconciliation is and I must have been persuaded by him because I wrote: “GO TO CONFESSION” on one of the first pages.

I started reading Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had. Although, I think my years in Baylor’s Great Texts and University Scholars programs were incredible and really gave me an amazing foundation, there’s so much more I want to read! Bauer starts the book explaining how to attempt tackling the great books outside of a classroom setting. I’ve read the beginning material and am ready to move into one of the “book list” sections. Bauer recommends starting with the list of novels but I’m going to start with the poetry section because I think that’s my weakest area. Who’s ready to tackle the Epic of Gilgamesh with me?

Benjamin is suddenly very interested in “reading” not just being read to. He loves to tell you what letters comprise a word and there’s a few words that he’s starting to recognize like “truck” and “dog.” I’m just trying to let him take the lead on this and engage his little mind when he brings books to “read” to me. Since he’s so interested right now, I’ve considered exploring one letter a week and practicing recognizing it, writing it, and emphasizing words that start with it through food and animals, etc. Thoughts? Is he too young for that? I don’t want it to feel like work.

One of his all-time favorite books is Wee Gillis by Monro Leaf given to him by our dear friend Emily. It’s an older book but absolutely delightful about a little boy in Scotland. The boy’s full name is “Alastair Roderic Craigellachie Dalhousie Gowan Donnybristle Mac Mac” and Benjamin loves to say the whole name and then laugh hysterically.

I also started reading a chapter book to him at night sometimes: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods. It’s not a girlie book, I promise! We’re three or four chapters in and most of it has been about Pa Ingalls smoking pork, making bullets, and shooting bears. Some nights he’s very interested other nights, not so much, so I’m giving it a rest for a month or so and we’ll give it a try then. I know it’s a stretch for a little guy but it has lots of pictures and he does talk about it often so I know he’s comprehending some of it.

And now another recommendation but not a book. Just watched Return to Cranford this week which was delightful. Cranford, the adaption of Elizabeth Gaskell stories is fantastic and if you love a good period miniseries, then this will be right up your alley. What’s your favorite miniseries? I watched North and South when I was in early labor with Benjamin and want something in that line to pass the time if early labor with Lucy.

If you haven’t entered my GIVEAWAY (all-natural handmade goat’s milk soap!), do it now! Giveaway closes tonight at midnight. C’mon guys, free soap!

In other news, we still haven’t completely settled on a middle name for Lucy. Accepting suggestions now.



Week 34 Pregnancy Update
August 26, 2011, 7:00 pm
Filed under: Pregnancy, Saints

Great appointment with my midwife on Wednesday! Lucy seems to already be head down in the right position which is wonderful and her heartbeat sounds beautifully strong. I’m staying healthy as well and I can’t believe that we will be meeting her in 6ish weeks! The only negative news is that I tested positive for Group B strep and so will need to show up to the hospital earlier than I had hoped to get an IV of antibiotics at least 4 hours before she’s born. But the midwife said that if I come in to get the IV and still have some laboring to go, she can send me back home (we literally live down the street from the hospital) to do my laboring there and I can come back to push. I’ve been having more Braxton-Hicks than I remember having with Benjamin but I haven’t had the mentrual-like cramps like I experienced Monday all this week so I feel relieved about that.

I’m loving my ballet classes this year! I have really precious students and Saturday we start Nutcracker rehearsals…in 100 degree heat.

If you get a chance, check out Daniel’s scrumptious post on Feast! for St. Rose of Lima’s Day. Pancit and Lomo Saltado! Both were delicious.



The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary
August 22, 2011, 8:13 pm
Filed under: Our Lady, Saints

I love Botticelli. His images of Our Lady are probably my favorite. This one is titled “Madonna of the Magnificat” but I thought of it today on the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary because the angels in the upper section are crowning her Queen of Heaven. In the image, she is writing down the beautiful poetry, the Magnificat, from the Gospel of Luke when she tells Elizabeth:

My soul doth magnify the Lord.

And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;

for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

Because he that is mighty,hath done great things to me;

and holy is his name.

And his mercy is from generation unto generations,to them that fear him.

He hath shewed might in his arm:

he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.

He hath put down the mighty from their seat,and hath exalted the humble.

He hath filled the hungry with good things;and the rich he hath sent empty away.

He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy:

As he spoke to our fathers,to Abraham and to his seed for ever.