May God be on My Mind, on My Lips, and in My Heart

What would you change in your life?

I’m not sure how much you know about the Catholic Church. I am, in fact, what is called a “cradle Catholic.” In other words, I was born into my Catholicism and have not strayed from it. I love going to Mass. It is the most calming and beautiful time of my week.

I got to thinking, last Sunday, about the motions of the Mass. There is a point before the Gospel where, we Catholics, take our right-hand thumbs and make the sign of the Cross three times. While doing this we say “May God be on my mind” (while we cross our foreheads,) “May God be on my lips” (while we cross our lips,) “and in my heart” (while we cross over our hearts.)

To non-Catholics, who can’t even hear the words we murmer, this may seem like a strange custom. Once they are told what we are praying, though, the meaning comes through. Last Sunday, however, the motions and prayers gave me pause. What if we really let God be on our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts? Would we change anything about how we live and love?

If God is always on one’s mind, would we be likely to cut someone off in traffic, or cheat in business? Would we not act in a more holy manner? What if we all did this? What if, instead of spreading corona virus, we spread God’s love and joy? How would your day change?

If God is always on one’s lips, would we be likely to use sharp words at our children, or swear at a store clerk? Would we not check our words and tone first to make sure that the voice coming from our mouth is Christ-like? Would we not spread the Good News?

If God is always on one’s mind, would we plot revenge, or think about what nasty thing we should have said to a rude co-worker? Would we not forgive and think about what a rough day that person must have been experiencing in order for him or her to act in that manner? Would we not act more like Christ?

Yes, we are all different. We are not all Catholic, or Protestant, or Jewish, or anything, but we are all God’s children, no matter what we call Him. He loves us all so very, very much. We do not have to prove we are worthy of Him. We are not, but He loves us still the same. He is the ever-loving Father. Just as your parent loves you, how very much more does our Father in Heaven.

So, think about what it means to be a Child of God. Then go out and spread his love and joy!

Fall Storm and Decadent Frosting

Rain ahead.

The wind is whipping around tonight. I hear it howl through the trees. It is like a wild beast, screaming and gnashing it’s teeth. The trees that can bend do, but those that are too rigid will break tonight. Be flexible to God’s Will and bend with Him.

Yummmmm!

Today I made cupcakes for children #3’s and 4’s birthday. Yes, I cheated and used a mix for said cupcakes, but only because their real cakes will be made for this weekend, and yes, they will be made from scratch. I was in a hurry today, what with the cleaning I wanted to get done.

The most important part of any cupcake, as any three-year-old can tell you, is the frosting anyway. The frosting I made for the cupcakes was divine! A deep, rich chocolate frosting that just melts in your mouth. My mouth is ready for a cupcake, but I already brushed my teeth. Darn!!!

Anyway, this is approximately what you’ll need, since frosting is not an exact science:

1 1/4 cups of dairy-free butter, softened (I like Smart Balance!)

3 – 4 cups of powdered sugar

1 cup cocoa

1 tsp. coffee flavoring (it brings out the chocolate flavor – just trust me on this!!!)

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup plain almond milk

Mix the df butter with the powdered sugar and cocoa on low speed with your hand mixer. Add the flavorings and almond milk. Mix until there are no more lumps. You may turn up your hand mixer if needed to dispel the lumps, but remember to turn it back down if you need to add something more to make the frosting work. No one wants frosting splattered all over their kitchen (even if it is tasty!!!) If the frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar. If the frosting is too thick, add a touch more almond milk. Pipe or smear onto your favorite cupcakes or cake. This would be amazing on Grandpa’s favorite chocolate cake! Add your decorations. We added colorful sprinkles for a festive look!

Enjoy and happy birthday to my twins!

Friends

Best Friends!

I was thinking about what to write tonight, and it occurred to me that I should write about friends. I have a friend that I have had since kindergarten, friends that I have met along the journey of raising my children, friends from my homeschooling days (not so very long in the past!) and friends from my children’s orchestral careers. I have mostly women friends, though I do have a few male friends as well. I like to think that I am an equal opportunity friend, meaning that it doesn’t matter the background, gender, color, education, or anything else. I like many different types of people, from the ones who know absolutely nothing about music, to the music oficionados; from the people who know about trauma to the ones who have always led fairly safe lives. The one thing that all these people have in common? They’re all nice people.

Now, I have had some friends who turned out not to be true friends. I’ve had friends who lie to me or talk about me behind my back. Those are not true friends and they certainly do not stand the test of time. They did not make the cut.

If I want to think back to my best friend, who is always there for me no matter what, I look to Jesus. He is, who I refer to as my 3 a.m. friend. What do I mean by this? He doesn’t care if I “call Him up” at 3 a.m. He is always happy to hear from me and to help me work out the issues I am having, even if it takes all night. I think of the song “What a friend we have in Jesus,” and it’s so true. He is our brother, our Savior, our friend, and our Lord. He’s the whole enchilada, as it is said.

Our other friends here are just an extension of God’s love for us. He gives us friends to help us through the tough times and rejoice with us in the good times. Theirs is the shoulder to cry on, and the hand to hold. They minister to us as Christ would and we minister to them in their time of need. So be Christ-like and be there for a friend. Maybe it’s not even someone with whom you were particularly close, but you saw a need and you were a friend. This is what we are called to do.

Be Ever Vigilant

Don’t get taken!

Unfortunately, there are bad people out there. I met a couple today when “Amazon” called me. I’ll admit to being naive. I am, by nature, very trusting. In our current world, that can definitely be detrimental.

I stupidly gave out too much information and luckily did not have enough money on either of my cards to cover what they tried to charge me. I eventually became suspicious and asked for a number to call back. I was put on hold for what seemed like forever, until finally there was a click and a busy signal. Yeah. He hung up.

So, to avoid this, you should do the following:

  1. Always ask to have a number to call back. Tell them that now is not a good time, and you will need to return their call. Any real company will have a number where they can be reached.
  2. Never give out any personal information, including credit card/debit card numbers (or any parts thereof), CVV numbers on the back of said debit/credit cards, social security numbers, etc.
  3. Never give anyone that you have not called yourself, access to your devices including computers, phones, etc.
  4. Be suspicious of anything that has to be done instantaneously. No reputable company will need you to move that quickly.
  5. When in doubt, cancel all cards and ask your bank(s) to issue new ones. You can never be too safe.
  6. And finally, make sure your devices are protected. I recommend the free AVG for your phone and computer. It’s easy to install and it offers good protection.

Be smart and be safe and I hope you voted!!!

God bless,

Rita

Happy Halloween 2020 Style!

Scary Monsters with Warty Witch Fingers

I hope you all had a Happy Halloween! We certainly did here! We have a tradition in our house of making a special “spooky” dinner. We’ve had “gremlin” stew (made with real gremlins – ha! Ha! Just kidding!!!)

This year we made “monster” burgers and warty witch fingers! They were so much fun. The dinner was made out of the following:

1, 26 oz. bag frozen french fries

4 Tbsp. canola oil

4 gluten free hamburger buns

4 hamburger patties

4 slices of cheese (real or dairy-free)

8 slices of black olive

tomato slices

pickle slices cut longways down the pickle like a tongue

Preheat oven to 450° F. Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and place french fries on it. When your oven is preheated, drizzle with the oil and put fries in the oven. Cook for 15 – 18 minutes.

Cook hamburger patties in a frying pan over low-medium heat. In the meantime, cut cheese into teeth on one side of the slice and set aside. Prepare the buns with your favorite toppers (mayo, ketchup, mustard, etc.) Add the tomato slices to the buns. When the burgers are done, place them on the other side of the bun from the tomato. Slip the pickle “tongue” under the burger and top with the cheese “teeth.” Place the other side of the bun on top and top with two olive slice “eyes.”

When the witch fingers are crispy, pull the pan out of the oven. Place the fingers on the plates next to the monsters. Enjoy!

For dessert, child #2 and I made sugar cookies. Recipe to come soon, but they are delicious! Here’s a pic:

Pre-frosted sugar cookies

Tasty Tuna Burgers

Tasty Tuna Burgers

I have long loved tuna burgers, but have struggled with a recipe. I wanted it to be simple, with only a few, non-specialty, ingredients, but also something so very tasty that my family would love it and want seconds. Tuesday is one of my cooking nights and I decided to take on the challenge. In our home, everyone cooks, so as not to wear out any one preparer of tastiness! Here is with what I came up:

5, 5-oz. cans of tuna (just your regular, chunk light brand in spring water)

1/2 cup Heinz mayonaise

1 tsp. dill

1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (or the juice you squeezed from the lemons you zested and then froze for later use)

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. granulated onion (or onion powder)

1/2 cup finely chopped breadcrumbs

Mix all ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Add about 2 Tbsp. safflower oil (canola oil would work too!) into a large frying pan and preheat on medium heat for about 2 minutes. Gently shape the tuna mixture into patties that are about 3 inches in diameter. You should get six patties.

Cook about 5 minutes on each side to achieve a golden brown (you might have to adjust your heat down a bit depending on your stove and the size of your pan.) They should look like this:

Yum!

Flip and continue to cook on the second side until it too is golden brown. Remember you are only trying to get a lovely golden brown and warm it through. Your “meat” is already cooked. Remove from pan and serve on a bun or off with your favorite toppings. We used the last of our garden tomatoes and cucumbers along with some chips. Enjoy!

Kindness is Never a Mistake

Our changing world through our trees!

How many times per day, in our changing world, is someone kind? Not very often, in my experience. There have been a few notable instances where someone has been kind. There was a man in a store that overheard me talking to child #2 about where the tire air caps were kept. We eventually found them, but a couple minutes later, the man hunted us down in a different aisle to bring me a package of them. I thanked him, but told him that we had found them. I couldn’t believe he went so far out of his way for me. It was a great feeling.

Now, I try to be kind, especially to the workers. It’s not easy to be working in a store, but it’s even more difficult if you have nasty customers with which to deal. These people are hard workers with families at home, and problems too. No need to make their lives more troublesome.

However, yesterday was a winner of a day. Let’s just say, I had a lot to offer up! To start the day, I plunged the toilet. Yeah. It’s my favorite task!!! The day went from bad to worse when I couldn’t find close parking spots, and people were rude. I was feeling pretty low, but I still had a donation to make to the local Salvation Army. When I went to pull up, a person had entered from the wrong direction so I pulled up next to the donation bins and waited so she could pull out and I could pull in. As she was finishing up, a little blue car pulled up behind the woman going the wrong direction. What? Seriously? Once the first woman left, I pulled up. Keep in mind I had been waiting a good 10 minutes, while this woman saw me waiting, and didn’t care. She was so much more important! The attendant started to say something to me so I let him know that I had been waiting patiently while she zipped around to enter from the wrong direction. He agreed with me, while she tried to explain she was just following the person in front of her while screaming and swearing. I suggested she follow the signs. She called me an a_______le!

Keep in mind that this was at Salvation Army, a Christian church’s resale store. I was appalled at her behavior and expressed my surprise to the attendant. He filled me in on how much bad behavior he sees on a daily basis. My mouth hung open! What is wrong with these people? Did they never get taught the golden rule? What are they doing at a Christian establishment? Seriously? This is what we’ve become?

Please, be kind. I have never regretted being kind, because it is never a mistake! God sees the good that you do. We are all His children and loved unconditionally by Him! This means that it doesn’t matter the mistakes that we’ve made or how awful we’ve been in the past. Ask for forgiveness. Go and sin no more. Start that out by being kind. Ideas? It could be as simple as smiling at people. Give a kind word. Give someone at the store, with only a few items, go in front of you. Say “hello.” Cook or bake something for a new parent or an older, friend who can’t. It can be as simple as that. So, go be kind! As for me? I had another plunging session with the toilet last night so I actually started and ended my day with plunging!!! At least today has been better!!!! I did get many things to offer up for special intentions yesterday, though, so it was still a win!

Bake a cake for a neighbor!

An Autumn Snack

Ready for the oven!

Ah, Autumn! The leaves are turning and the air has a crisp bite to it. It’s the perfect time to be turning on the oven to take the chill out of the air with something to eat. We make many Autumn treats, apple pie, pumpkin cake, chocolate chip cookies (well, let’s be honest – we make these all year long!!!) The one snack my children and I look forward to every October is…pumpkin seeds!

We enjoy carving pumpkins for Halloween with jack-o-lantern faces, bats, cats, or many other fun things, but the part I like best is the roasting and eating of the coveted pumpkin seeds. We wait a whole year between eating this treat, but it’s worth it! Here is how I do it:

1 – 4 large carving pumpkins (this totally depends on how many children you have, or at least how ambitious you are!!! We had four this year, but one was rotted on the inside and you couldn’t tell until you cut into it. I’m taking it back for a replacement! Child #4 was so disappointed, so child #2 gave her her pumpkin and will carve the replacement I pick up tomorrow.)

Pumpkin carving tools (I use a knife to cut the top off, as well as the pumpkin saws, scrapers, etc.)

1 large foil-lined jelly roll pan

1/4 – 1/3 cup safflower oil (canola works too)

1/4 – tsp. granulated garlic

1 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Cut the top off of your pumpkin(s) using a sharp knife while cutting at a 45° angle so that the top will be able to sit back on the pumpkin instead of falling back inside. Use your fingers to take out the seeds and place on the prepared pan, being careful to discard the “guts” as these will not help your seeds to bake. When you have all the seeds from all of your pumpkins on the pan, drizzle the oil generously over the top. Sprinkle the garlic and salt and stir to make sure the seeds are evenly coated. Bake for 20 or so minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until seeds are golden brown and fragrant. They should look like this:

Yum!

When done, pull the pan out of the oven and let cool. Enjoy! These can be kept in an airtight container for a week if there are any left!!!

Don’t forget to finish scraping out your pumpkins and carve them! That’s the second best part! Here’s a pic of mine for this Halloween!

My 2020 Jack-o’-lantern. Ooh…scary!

Welcome, Friends!

Some welcome cookies.

I just wanted to welcome my friends from Facebook! I have spent some time this weekend setting up a Facebook page for this lovely, marvelous, glorious blog! I am trying to increase traffic so that I can reach more people who need my help.

I am very grateful for every one of my followers. So, thank you for joining me!

What have I been up to lately? Child #2 and I have been cleaning out the hall closet. What”s the big deal? Well, some people have a junk drawer…I aspire higher. I have a junk closet. At least, I did. Not so much anymore. Now I have a partially empty, partly organized space.

I have utilized my carpentry skills to put in a fourth shelf in a spot that was formerly just wasted space. This shelf I designed to hold three plastic containers in height and five across. This way, I should be able to organize all the stuff that everyone has been just throwing in the closet for years. Yup. I’m done!

So, I have taken many things to a resale store. I have pared down and organized, sawed and straightened until I think the base closet is as good as it’s going to be. Now I just need to finish putting everything away in its proper box.

The closet so far.

Next time, I’ll give you all a lovely recipe. Something for Fall. Something warm and savory. Mmmmmm…yum!

Note: I want to thank you for all the prayers for my aunt. She is back at home after her medical drama, and, though the progress is slow and she is discouraged, she will continue on. One step at a time.