Sunday, February 25, 2018

Leftover LaLapalooza - Or Do you Repurpose Food?

Happy Sunday Morning All,
Happy Second Sunday in Lent!

I'm hopping on really quickly with some frugal pantry advice.

Do you Repurpose Food? Some people call it leftovers, but my people don't like "leftovers"... so I call it repurposing food. HA! They even help invent meals. Aint' NOBODY got time (or money) to be snobby around here!!

Last evening, as I was purposing to use what I have for dinner I thought - "I have GOT to blog about this."

In our home, we have three people, so there are often leftovers. And when my husband travels, that number goes down to two. Y'all it would be so dang easy to blow the budget and order pizza or Chinese Food, but a) it's Lent and we are supposed to sacrifice, and b) we are holding ourselves more accountable for what we spend. SOOOO the long and short of it is, I had to find something to cook.

Additionally I am on my 3rd day of Antibiotics, recovering from Strep and Sinus Infection - you know, because one thing is not enough. I always have to overachieve... Anywhooooo...

Last night, I made a goulash of sorts. A perfect food for cold, rainy winter evenings. Filling, but not too fattening. Semi-Healthy (if you laden with veggies).

Do you know what Goulash is?

When I say, goulash of sorts, let me be clear... my definition is loosely based on the above, however, I am not a Hungarian, nor do I play one on TV.  (hahaha) AND there is no Paprika in this stew-ish meal.  But, it is teenager approved. So it works in our house.

Here is what's I did:

In the fridge, I found two oversized chicken breasts that my husband cooked. I cubed the chicken, then cut about 3/4 of one of the breasts into smaller cubes and set it aside (see repurpose #2 below).

For the Goulash I put about a tablespoon of olive oil into the bottom of a pan, chopped roughly half an onion up and used about a tablespoon of minced garlic and put those in the pan, let the onions cook a while and added the chicken, diced tomatoes, and cubed one yellow squash ad added it. Then I thought, Huh... what else can I add? I quite literally walked to the pantry, put some baked bbq beans in the mix, added cumin, garlic powder, and half a cup of water. I let it all simmer together, had the boy taste it, and he gave it the thumbs up (which frankly y'all is ALL that matters). He asked for it over bowtie pasta... And I served it layered, in bowls. Pasta, goulash and sprinkled some shredded cheese on it. You could add cilantro or whatever you want.

Here's a picture of it.

Emily Davis' Use What You Have Goulash
For the 2nd Repurpose of the chicken breasts, I made chicken salad for sandwiches (or crackers, or by it's-self). Here's what I did.

I took the smaller cubed chicken, added two grated boiled eggs, three small Vlasic dill pickles, and some garlic salt, Italian spices, basil and grated black pepper (all to taste), and lastly about three tablespoons of mayonnaise. Mixed it together and it's ready to go for a day or so of lunches.

Here are a couple of pictures of it:

Those of you who have children of cooking age, you can really engage their imaginations by challenging them to come up with a meal.  It can't be too funky, or no one will eat it. I was nervous about the bbq beans (which I had picked up a year ago, by mistake, thinking they were baked beans).

Lent is a good time to use what you have. With the extra we have, we are searching weekly adds, and purposing to fill a box with a certain $$ amount of groceries weekly. And... the money has to come from somewhere. Ya know?

A few years ago, I wrote this post: Frugal Pantry Tip - Repurposing Food. It's a pretty decent post. We have always been the kind of people who, even if we had the money, we hated to toss out food. It's just so wasteful. We both grew up in practical and poor-at-times households. And we make a practice to use what we have.

Plus there's this. I mean - how true is this quote from Pope Francis.

I also found this. Y'all it is STUNNING to me how much food is wasted. We really need to do a better job of using what we have, not buying what we don't need, AND thinking of others and what we could do for them if we don't waste.

We need to teach our children about not wasting and about how blessed they are to have enough food to eat. Christopher started volunteering and being involved in our local Foodbank at the age of three. YES three. He has packed back-packs for children who don't have. And though, he has never been hungry, he's heard the stories.

It is not my intention to bring you down, but to educate you and remind you of what we can all do better. You aren't alone if you waste, clearly... But here and now, decide to waste less. That's all.

I hope you enjoyed this.
And while I have your attention, let me know how you repurpose food. AND let me know if you would be interested in linking up to a regular recipe post about how to repurpose leftovers? It might be fun to share our made up recipes. <3

I hope to hear from you!

Love, hugs & Blessings,

Friday, February 16, 2018

Meatless Friday - Whatcha Cooking?

Happy First Friday of Lent... the Friday after Ash Wednesday!

Today's first reading in my Magnificat, struck me:
Sirach 34:26; 35:3 -- A man who fasts for his sins, but then goes and commits them again: Who will hear his prayer, and what has he gained by his mortification? To refrain from evil pleases the Lord, and to avoid injustice is an atonement.
Folks, God knows we are going to sin... and in many cases, we will repeat sins (I may have sworn more than once.... SIGH); however, we are to busy ourselves with what pleases the Lord.  For me, I'm busy with my family and getting my life back in order. You?

As you know, today is a day of Abstinence in the Catholic Church.  We give up meat on Fridays in Lent.  My family gives up meat year round (with the exception of if we are traveling or we forget.... and then, we do a Family Rosary or another penance - as is the rule).

But I didn't come here to lecture you on how to do your Lent. I came to ask you what you're serving for dinner. So what's it going to be?

Tonight on my menu is Garlic Shrimp with Roasted Vegetables. Although, my vegetables will look more like onions, asparagus, yellow squash, portobello mushrooms, tomatoes and I think that's about it. <3  You see, we are also using what we have in an effort to clean out our Fridge/Freezer and Pantry.

Have I ever told you about the Pantry Challenge? I found Jessica's Blog maybe like ten years ago. Back then, it wasn't as "salesy".... I have introduced a few friends to the blog this past couple years and they don't like it as much as I did back when. But I like her style, I have some of her cookbooks, and I dig her logic. I've been doing the Pantry Challenge along with her since probably 2008-ish. It's a great way to use what you have and make room for new...  AND to go through and toss expired or old foods.   If you go to this post - HERE - it is the first post of this year's challenge. Informative!

Here are a couple links from my blog with great ideas for Meatless Meals:

Listen, mamas with young children or MANY children.  You do what you can to meet the Lenten meal requirements, within budget and time constraints. Maybe you order cheese pizza or veggie pizza OR make them as a family! Serve the children Mac-n-Cheese with apples on the side. It does NOT have to be fancy. Our youngest is 14... I can do the above and it's not hard. You know? I just want to make sure you know that.


Have a great rest of your Friday!

Love and hugs,

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Let's Talk Lent - and K.I.S.S.

Happy Valentine's Day!
Happy Ash Wednesday!

Today, Catholics everywhere are lining up to receive ashes and begin our Lenten Season.  Yep, today is the day we receive the sign of the cross on our heads, in ashes. The ashes symbolize our sins and the cross symbolizes our Savior (our Biggest Blessing).

Of course, I woke up with a painful pimple - in just the right spot where Ashes would go. Hello Father, don't you want to touch that. HA I'm so sarcastic in my mind.

Anywhoooooo... Here's some Saint Mother Teresa Love.

And here are my thoughts on Lent:

This past Sunday I taught the lesson of Lenten Preparation to the third graders in my Religious Ed Class. We talked about traditions and things. But one of the most striking statements from the lesson was the Proclamation about the lesson that I wrote on the board (per the book). To me, it's the overarching theme of Lent:

During Lent, we prepare for Easter so that we may receive the new life of The Risen Christ. When we are Baptized, we receive new life. Lent is like Baptism, because during Lent we are born into new life.

We learned:
  • through sacrifice, we can actually learn to change our ways.
  • through prayer and fasting during Lent, we prepare our hearts to receive Jesus.
  • through Baptism and Lent, we receive new life.
  • by staying close to Jesus, in prayer, sacrifice and fasting, we can imitate Jesus (which is what we are called to do).
There was a time, when I was trying to live up to other's standards of what Lent or any Catholic Season/Holiday/Holy Day should look like. No more. I had fun doing all the crafty and great things with friends and family, but currently, I am all about the simple and precious.  I set myself up to fail and it was no one's fault but mine.

Pretend like this is an actual conversation:
Me: I'm going to do 475 different devotions, crafts and fun things this year.
Also Me: I can't get it all done.
My Husband: Don't get upset, cut something out.
Me: But all these people are doing hundreds of super human things for Lent and I'm only doing 20. HA
Do you recognize any part of that conversation?  Do you over-volunteer? Do you give too much or do too much, to the point you drive yourself and family crazy, then go stand in the corner and give yourself a time-out because you may or may not want to punch someone (namely yourself)?  -- if so PLEASE, I implore you - FIND PEACE! You are enough. You don't need to buy a fancy Lent journal or stress over which Catholic group you want to follow along in for Lent! You don't have to do all 75000 fun craft projects your friends are doing or read every book, etc.

Hear me: GOD ONLY WANTS YOU!!!! He doesn't care about fancy schmancy! He wants your heart and soul. Whatever you do will be GOOD ENOUGH! Sigh.

Ok  - end of lesson. HA

My New Motto: K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple Silly! If it doesn't bring peace and isn't simple - it's out for this year's Lent!  Here is how I plan to (honestly and simply) live the three pillars of Lent this year.

1) Prayer - Prayer is simply a conversation with God. I talk to Him so much. I'm so thankful. But during Lent, we must purpose to pray clearer and seek the cleaning out of our hearts and souls. My prayer of choice this Lent, purposing to say the Rosary, daily.  I am not proud of the suffering and bad attitude I have suffered this past year or so. What I can do, is change ME. Praying the Rosary is medicine to my soul and I miss it. But when I got down, I decided I was forsaken and in exchange, I forsook. Sigh. The below picture, it used to be what I felt. And I am purposing to get back there. My Mother is calling me.

You can choose your own prayer. Call on the Saints. So many great Catholic Prayers. Also - get to Mass more. <3 Get in front of Jesus y'all.

2) Almsgiving - during Lent, we purpose to help others. I don't have a lot of extra cash this year, but we will focus on giving to our local food banks. We volunteer a lot at our Parish and are a giving family. When we can do more, we will.

3) Fasting/Abstinence - In the Catholic Church, Fasting on certain days of our Liturgical Calendar involves eating two small meals and one regular meal on any given day of Fasting. There are different rules for the sick, pregnant women and children, of course. There are only two days during Lent where Fasting is required - Ash Wednesday AND Good Friday.

All year, we must either Abstain from (give up/don't eat) meat on Fridays or we have to perform another penance. However, during Lent, we must abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, and all Fridays during Lent. If, for any reason you can not abstain, you must perform another penitential act. In my house, we like fish, so this is not hard for us. We will likely add one other day/week as meatless to further add to our sacrifice.

For me, personally, I am limiting my time on Social Media, and we have given up Starbucks as a family. This last one may sound silly to you. BUT if you knew how much we spent on Starbucks, and how budget conscious we are purposing to be, you'd know that we need to do this, along with a litany of other things.

There are other things we are sacrificing, but those are private.

Additionally, I wanted to make sure you all understand that Sundays ARE in fact included in Lent. Sigh. Here's a helpful link to explain Sundays in Lent.

Some Helpful Links:

Message From Our Holy Father - Please read this if nothing else. Here is just a small portion. I love him. I truly love our Pope. Mostly because he is our leader AND he explains it so well.

Lent with Lucia - her instructions are simple. And I like simple these days.

Whatever you are doing this Lent, let it be something that draw you closer to Our Lord, Our Faith and  keeps you on your path toward Heaven! I'm so happy to have met you and crossed paths with you on our walk. <3

God bless you and keep you this Lenten Season dear readers.

Hugs & blessings,

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Today's (well, January 20th) Gospel Reflection -

Hi all,

A few days ago, I had a Gospel Reflection post on Unfortunately their site was down and I couldn't share the link.

I'm hopeful that you will go back and read my little reflection from this past Saturday, on the Gospel of Mark, 3:20-21.

My Key Phrase: Do we choose to let fear separate us from Christ OR stand by Him and learn from Him?

Check it out - HERE!

AND - while you are at it, sign up to read the Daily Gospel Reflections. There are hundreds of writers and fabulous perspectives. Daily Gospel Reflections

Hugs & Blessings,


Monday, January 22, 2018

Respect Life... I Am A Murderer

Happy National Respect Life Day in the USA!

Tonight my family and I will perhaps participate in the Rose Procession, my son will serve, we will attend Mass and a reception/potluck after.

This morning, when I was speaking with the organizer, she asked if I wanted to be in the procession and I said, I wasn't sure because I'd had an abortion and I don't know how I will react to this whole experience. This will be my first Respect Life Mass, mostly because I am too scared to have gone before.

November 10th, 1982, I willingly had an abortion. I was in an abusive relationship, and I did not have great parenting (my mother was very abusive), but I feel like if I was a stronger person, I'd have had that baby and the other babies I aborted. It's not enough to say that I wasn't Catholic. It's not enough to say I was very lost. There are really NOT enough words to say how much this has affected my life.

I can tell you everything that happened that first date.. and much of what happened on the others. But to be honest, I was so lost by then, well, years of therapy later, and PTSD for the abuse I endured...I figure my brain can't grasp the enormity of it all. Anyway...

The truth is, I am a murderer. I don't look like a typical murderer, but we all know that is what it boils down to.


But still, when I was speaking to her on the phone, and I said, "I'm sorry to blurt that out there like that. I hope I have not made myself look too bad in your eyes!"  She said, no, not at all. You're so brave for going on with your life. I don't know how you could not want to kill yourself."

This young girl, did not mean to hurt me in any way. She didn't. The magnitude of her words is TRUE! It's true. It's hard to live with. The thought of taking my own life, for many reasons, has occurred to me.  But that is not the purpose of this post.

I just want to say this...

If people knew how hard living with all this was, they would only offer comfort. I am just as forgiven as they are for their sins. It's just that my sin is marked by occasions in our Church, so it's hard to let it go.
It doesn't matter if your words don't mean to hurt... sometimes they do.
I will not be telling this person that she hurt my feelings until I can do it with grace.
  • She didn't know that I got pregnant the first time I had sex.
  • She didn't know that I asked my father what he'd do and he said he'd keep the baby and toss me out.
  • She doesn't know how far I've come.
  • She isn't wrong. It's just that her words are not necessary. 
Please be gentle with people living with the guilt and angst of abortion in their past.
We are called to forgive and show compassion.

Perhaps everyone could read Pope John Paul II's Words - A Special Word to Women Who Have Had Abortion or Pope Francis' Words on Abortion HERE.

Some of Pope Francis' words:
That said, the Catholic Church's stance on abortion has not changed -- it is still viewed as a "grave sin." But it makes it easier for women who have had abortions to be absolved for their actions, and rejoin the church. 
"I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life," the Pope's letter states.
"In the same way, however, I can and must state that there is no sin that God's mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father."
The letter continues: "May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation.
"I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion."
When you come across someone who had an abortion, please be kind and compassionate. And for heaven's sake don't give them any big ideas or remind them how bad it is.. THEY KNOW! It's embarrassing, humiliating, self-denigrating and very hard to walk with.

I just wanted to get that off my chest.

And yes, I have forgiven myself, but I also won't lie to myself. My sins of abortion are MORTAL in nature. But I'm so blessed to have a strong faith and to be forgiven.

Thank you Jesus. Amen!

Love, Hugs & Blessings,


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Do You Have a Blessing Jar?

Happy Sunday Evening y'all.

I've been wanting to do this post since the beginning of the year. We don't usually post things super late like this, BUT wanted to write it whilst I had a moment.

The picture below is our family Blessing Jar.

Does your family have one?  If not - I think you should. Ours is a big jar decorated with stickers. I've shown you a few sides. I cut pieces of paper out from construction paper and keep plenty of pens around.

WHAT IS IT?  It's a vessel of JOY. Truly! Throughout the year, my family writes down the ways we bless each other.  New Year's Eve (or if you are at a party, you could do it New Year's Day) we traditionally are all together. We play games, eat snacky food, and read from the jar. We all take turns reading them, but here is a picture of my husband doing so:

The notes could say, "I appreciate having a mom who gives good advice."; "I am blessed to watch my son serve the alter." "We are glad to have a daddy who works hard and provides for us."  Whatever complimentary statement by any ONE member of the family towards another member of the family.  The writer must identify themselves.

When the note it is written, it is folded so that no one can see the writing (If possible). Parents or older siblings can help younger children write. In a large family it would be important to have notes written about everyone in the family.

It's a great help to get children thinking of blessings, and also encourages them to bless others.  It's also a great way to end the year - Counting your blessings.

WHAT IT IS NOT... It is not an excuse to not tell your family members how much you appreciate them throughout the year. That has to happen. It's not a joke or something to take lightly. Say what you mean - don't be funny or sarcastic.

We love doing this.  It's just a silly way to come together and thank one another on the last day of the year. The pics above are already blessings for this year. YAY!

Have a great night y'all. I hope this gave you some ideas.

Love, Hugs & Blessings,


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

CWBN Blog Hop - Human Imperfection in the Vocation of Marriage

Happy Freezing January Y'all.

Can I just share with you that the media hyped up the invisible Snow again? It is so cold here (for Texas) and was in the 20's this morning. But so dry and cold, we have no white stuff. BOOO. But we are in our home and getting things done - because here, if there is NOT snow, there is no point in playing outside in the cold.  Can we agree on that? LOL

I am joining up with Allison Gingras and crew for the CWBN Blog Hop. It's a monthly, blog post geared toward a pointed topic. And it's awesome. This month's topic... Exploring Vocations - From the Religious Life, to Married Life, and Beyond 

I'm a convert, so I am going to attempt to do this subject justice. Here's my post:

First of all, let's start with the definition of Vocation as deemed so by Merriam-Webster, just to show the difference between secular definitions and that of the Catholic Church.

As Catholics, we believe that the word vocation "is the calling or destiny we have in this life and the hereafter. God has created the human person to love and serve Him; the fulfillment of this vocation is eternal happiness...." The definition continues and is on page 903 in the glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition. Additionally, in the CCC, there are over 30 entries in the index explaining the word Vocation and what it means to Catholics. In fact, here is roughly a third of the Index under the word Vocation (pg. 857, CCC).

I highlighted 2a above in the Mirriam-Webster dictionary, because to be honest with you, before I met my husband I had gone away from the Church in terms of regularity, and I though my vocation was Event Planner/Executive Admin, because in the secular world that was my vocation. 

When we first married, I know we loved each other and wanted to be married, and we went through counseling with the Pastor at the Lutheran church, and talked about marriage. But I don't think we ever really got how sacred the Sacrament of Marriage was until it all almost fell apart. 

When we got married, we were Lutheran. In fact, I was going to RCIA and he didn't want to be Catholic, so since I was Lutheran, we stayed there. He got Baptized and we got married. But neither of us knew the Vocation. Neither of us ever had Godly examples... I mean no one ever talked to me about becoming a Nun/Sister, nor did anyone talk to my husband about becoming a Priest. In my family, girls got married and didn't have a college education (for the most part). And we certainly didn't have examples of what a solid vocation to Marriage or Parenthood would look like. So our marriage was rough for a long while.

Don't get me wrong, we spent plenty of time together. We were a career couple. We threw dinner parties, and worked on my fertility issues. And when we were finally able to conceive and carry to term - most of my focus switched to my child. Yes, when my husband was home (he traveled a lot, including two tours in Iraq), he was fed and cared for. But my true focus was mothering my son. I'd waited till I was 40 to have him. I'd been through miscarriages and so much disappointment.... that when I finally became a stay home mom - I took my planning and organizational skills and became Chief Home Officer - and not in a great way. HA Looking back makes me want to laugh and cry. Sigh.

We were so unhappy! Both so determined to have our own ways. Both trying to work through bad things from childhood, and him from past marriages. We put everything but each other first. God allowed us to tear it down so we could rebuild it. I'll not go into more detail because that is not the point of this post. But when God reveals His plan to you, for you, YOU need to be open to listening. Against all odds, we are happily married, imperfect as we are, because we believe in God's calling and His Rules for marriage.

Through so much prayer and hard work, we know that the vocation of marriage is:
  • praying with your husband when his only biological spouse dies and he feels alone because he can't find his birth mother. Not, yelling at him because he's short with you.
  • taking care of the home front when your husband is away in Iraq, and putting aside your fears so that you can function.
  • laughing with your spouse when your four month old child, who has reflux has vomited so violently on you that your glasses come off and there is an outline of your person on the pastel, plaid, oversized comfy chair with floral pillows, and when he comes in from running to get ice cream and finds a trail of clothes on the way to the bathroom and you and said child in the bath. The looks on all our faces! ha
  • trying a new recipe and epically failing.
  • laughing till you cry.
  • crying till you laugh.
  • a range of emotions you never knew existed.
  • praying endless prayers for each other and your children, families, friends, our world.
  • facing special needs of your child head on and not letting them tear a wedge between you.
  • overcoming the grief of infant loss, the loss of your parents and many other types of loss AND still finding time to care for one-another. 
  • tending to one-another in sickness, surgical recovery, etc.
  • mending childhood scars of your spouse.
  • raising Godly children and not letting their needs come between your needs as a man and woman.
  • knowing that no matter what transpires you are not alone and you are loved, if only by your spouse.
  • balancing everything life throws at you and knowing that God ordained this crazy mess of a life and that you will get through it as long as you stay strong.
  • .... and so much more.
We have been together almost twenty years and married for 19 this Summer. And perhaps the biggest thing we know about marriage is this:

We are called to put nothing before our Spouses, except for God. When we are true to the bonds of our vocation, which is Holy Matrimony, our divine calling from the Lord, we build marriages with God at the head of them and with NOTHING between spouses except their shared love and devotion. 
Genesis 2:24, "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh."
Please don't ask me if I am perfect. I'm not. Neither is he. But we have come a long way and we are on a holy path... it may have lots of turns or bumps, but it's a path y'all, that we never thought we'd be blessed enough to be on. We love Jesus, and our Faith... and as Mother Angelica says:

As for the other vocations, my sister bloggers will tell you about those. In every Catholic home we talk about vocations because we know that we are all called to work for God, and increase in holiness while seeking His will for us....ultimately leading us to heaven. 

I chose to share the imperfection of humanity in my post about marriage because someone, somewhere, needs to know they aren't alone. They need to know that just because marriage is hard, and maybe failing in some ways, that you can turn it around by changing yourself, whilst praying for your spouse. Imperfections are like clay to God, let him sculpt your marriage. Whoever you are..

Lastly, here is a great link with prayers for Vocations - USCCB Prayers for Vocations. The one I like is this one:
Loving and Generous God,it is You who call us by name and ask us to follow You. Help us to grow in the Love and Service of our Church as we experience it today.
Give us the energy and courage of Your Spirit to shape its future
Grant us faith-filled leaders who will embrace Christ's Mission of love and justice.
Bless the Catholic Church by raising up dedicated and generous leaders from our families and friendswho will serve Your people as Sisters, Priests, Brothers, Deacons and Lay Ministers.
Inspire us to know You better and open our hearts to hear Your call.
We ask this through our Lord.
I'm excited to read the other blog posts. Please go to Allison's blog and check out all of the other bloggers in the CWBN Blog Hop. There is so much talent! And if you like a post, leave a comment. Bloggers LOVE that!

Have a great day all, and thanks for stopping by.
Love, Hugs & Blessings,

Leftover LaLapalooza - Or Do you Repurpose Food?

Happy Sunday Morning All, Happy Second Sunday in Lent! I'm hopping on really quickly with some frugal pantry advice. Do you Repurp...