Wednesday, 3 August 2016

World Wednesday: Quinoa

Would anyone care to share their favourite quinoa recipe? My repertoire is too small.

Although I knew that this seed was a good gluten-free grain replacement, I had no idea what a protein powerhouse it was until my midwife recommended it during pregnancy. My body craves protein like water. It's what I miss the most if lacking in a meal.

And a little goes a long way, so quinoa is definitely worth taking advantage of! We buy ours from Costco, the organic Ancient Grains brand. 
But quinoa is sooooo bland and boring when cooked on its own. It needs a lot of flavour to back it up!

Our favourite (and pretty much only) quinoa dish is Mexican quinoa, basically a meatless chili. Beans, tomatoes, corn and quinoa all cooked together in a pan with lots of spices. Avocado can be a nice addition, although Ben doesn't like it. But he will happily eat Mexican quinoa as long as there is cheese on top!

I occasionally use quinoa to bolster up chicken soup as well, or mix a little with some veggie for the baby, but there ends my use of it.

I know Pinterest could yield hundreds of suggestions, but if anyone has a well known and loved recipe I would love to hear it and to benefit from your experience! :)

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

World Wednesday: Kleenex Boxes

I wonder who gets to design Kleenex boxes as their job?

Maybe it's because of the allergies that have plagued me half my life, requiring frequent trips for tissues, but I have often noticed the really beautiful designs that show up on the functional Kleenex box. Quirky patterns, rich colours, photographs that focus in on the detailed heart of a flower - so many different artistic displays on each new batch of boxes.

When pennies are tight I make do with trusty old toilet paper, but I do enjoy buying a few boxes of Kleenex to have around the house, and I honestly stand there for several minutes trying to decide which of the pretty designs I'm going to choose!

How delightful that such a mundane space can be turned into it's own miniature canvas and bring an unexpected beauty to corners of a room. :)

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Touch of Colour Tuesday: Painted Cookies Recipe

     Today I'm sharing an Easter tradition that I grew up with - painted sugar cookies. These add a splash of bright colour among our Paschal treats and are delicious too! I usually double (or triple, or quadruple) the recipe, as my brothers are cookie hoovers.

       Cookie Ingredients:

       1 cup butter
       2/3 cup sugar
       1 egg
       1 tsp vanilla
       2 1/2 cup flour
       1 tsp baking powder
       1/2 tsp salt

   Paint Ingredients:

       1 egg yolk
       1 tbsp water
       food colouring

     To begin, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in your egg and vanilla before adding the dry ingredients. Mix dough thoroughly and roll to about 1/4 inch thick on a floured surface.

Cut cookies and fill baking sheets!

To make the paint, combine egg yolk with one tbsp of water and divide it into small containers. A muffin tin works well for holding the different colours as well. 
Use as many drops of food colouring as it takes to reach your desired colours. This year I had neon yellow, pink, purple, blue and green.

Paint all your cookies before putting them in the oven.

Bake at 350° for approximately 13-15 mins, or until slightly golden brown on the edges.

Leftover dough makes great taste-test cookies!

Monday, 28 March 2016

Surrexit Christus Alleluia!

Happy Easter! The strife is o'er, hope is renewed, and we are celebrating with all the food and drink and music and joy we can muster.

Perrin watching Daddy make a pussy-willow bough at Babcia and Dziadzia's house.
Our basket for the food blessing.

Ben made a lovely early breakfast for the two of us <3

And the warmth and sunshine made for the best sap flow yet!

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Good Friday: On Fear and Not Carrying the Wrong Cross

In Fr. John Lacey's Good Friday service homily, he pointed out that we will always have our crosses whether or not we believe in Christ or choose to carry them.

It was actually a relief for me to be reminded of this. When I hear the phrase "carry your cross", I tend to strongly resist. I suppose I think that somehow, if I say yes, that is what will allow suffering to be heaped upon me. Accepting any cross Christ gives me? - my mind jumps to the most extreme versions of what that could entail: concentration camps, martyrdom, or (worst of all) losing my child - um, no I'm not ok with any of that, thanks.

But in reality, both good and bad things will happen in my life regardless of whether or not I choose to place them in God's hands.

In fact, I realized that the cross Christ wants me to carry isn't usually as heavy as the one I cut out for myself. What I am actually asked to deal with is the real things that are happening in my life, whether that means not-being-asleep at 3am when I really want to be, or financial setbacks, or family conflict. There is pain involved, but it is by no means crushing me. Now I know that some people are experiencing much much greater, more excruciating things, and that maybe at some point I might have to as well. But that's where I have to have the faith that God will give us only what we can bear (knowing how small and weak we are), and try my best to support those with the hardest burdens.

What I am not meant to be carrying is the fear of All Of The Things. All the possibilities that my brain cooks up to worry itself over but that have no bearing in reality. These root me in fear, rather than love. I waste my limited energy resources trying to carry a cross that doesn't even exist, while getting distracted from the actual needs of the moment that do.

There is only one cross that contains every human suffering, and it is His.

Holy Thursday: The Triduum Begins

This year was our first Holy Thursday supper just as our own little family. Special but quiet, saving up energy for the full weekend ahead.

We had some lovely homegrown lamb (thanks to brother-in-law Joe) and delicious coffee-flavoured wine (thanks to brother-in-law Nicholas), rice, peas, and a rich buttery bread.

I thought especially this year how grateful I am for all the good priests out there. The Fathers who bear with the suspicion and discredit brought upon because of those who have failed, and who keep serving us anyways.

And we managed to make it to Mass despite the sleet and freezing rain. Ah, Ontario spring. :P

Monday, 21 March 2016

Mindful Monday: Screen Addiction Confession

I am coming to the realization that I am addicted to screens. My phone and laptop are like silent sirens, constantly calling to my subconscious, reminding me that they are oh-so-available, and without even thinking about it I am drawn back again and again.

It's been hovering in the back of my mind to write this for a while, except the weakness is so strong (oxymoron much?) that I haven't even been sure if I want to change. I know that I want to - want to.

A couple days ago I sat down on the floor by our sliding glass door to eat my lunch and realized with horror that I couldn't remember the last time I'd eaten by myself without a screen in front of my face.

Ben and I eat sit down meals together (which, btw, would be one of my top pieces of marriage advice), but when he's away or eating lunch at work, my go-to is a seat on the couch with the laptop. A sandwich in one hand, typing or browsing with the other. The baby is usually playing on his mat or tucked beside me with some toys.

But I wish I could say this was only at lunch. 

For the very few things I actually have to check online (email, weather, Facebook, Pinterest), I spend a surprising amount of time checking them. I even find myself staring at the empty browser wondering what else I can come up with to look at. Over and over throughout the day, I put myself to some task or pursuit, but before I know it, there I am back at the computer again. Even my Lenten resolution to make a difference in this area wasted away to the bare minimum of its initial form.

Why is it so addictive? I suppose because it is just so effortless. Most other activities take at least a bit of brain power or elbow grease, whether designing a piece of art, washing dishes, or even singing! Looking at a screen is the easiest, laziest, most passive pastime. So much so that it becomes a default, a resting spot in between anything that requires more exertion. 

The addiction is also fuelled by conditioning to constant entertainment. I grab my phone to "have something to do" while eating my cereal or nursing the baby, and forget to simply immerse myself in eating my cereal, and nursing the baby!

In my heart, I don't do it :) I'm not "that type of person", haha. I've always been one to sing the praises of real life, and to remonstrate with my brothers for their hours of gaming. Yet here I am. 
It's time to be honest with myself. This addiction looks so innocent, yet it steals from everything: productivity, the cleanliness and order of our home, my relationships with Ben and Perrin, prayer, exercise... It even eats away at my peace of mind, for after spending a while online I feel discouraged and guilty.

I don't think I'm a hopeless case, or that I should stop using the devices. Nor am I alone. This whole generation has its task cut out to find balance in such an abundant availability of digital reality. What I do need to do is start being really mindful about my screen use. Pare down to only the useful, not the wasteful. Make a conscious decision to put it down, away, out of my mind, to take a deep breath, and to open myself fully to the world around me. Hopefully putting this out there in written words will help my resolve :)

So here's to embracing life! There is so much wonderful life to be lived. The air is fresh and chilly, full of health and the promise of spring, if only we take the chance to breathe it. The chicken is such fun to watch, trotting around the yard, paying calls to the bunnies and investigating the compost pile. There are new spices in the cupboard to tweak an old recipe. Who knows what interesting conversations might result from just relaxing with the husband? And there is that round, bright baby face right beside me, waiting to laugh at the first sight of fun, ready to be delighted when I turn to him, watching for attention and affection and all the neat things I can help him to experience. 

Hopefully in time, when I remember to check my email, pulling out the laptop from some forgotten corner and dusting it off, I will find that even before I am finished, the bugle call of real life has summoned me back into its wholeness.