Sunday, August 25, 2013

Blueberry Buckle for Our Lady

We were explaining to G (4) about how it was almost the Feast of the Assumption. Her eyes lit up and she asked me excitedly, "Are we going to make blueberry buckle?" I had not planned on it, but lately I have been keeping blueberries in the freezer for my current favorite breakfast of granola, homemade yoghurt, and blueberries. I said, "Sure, we can do that!" And mentally planned when we would have an hour to bake the dessert and be able to eat it before the girls' bedtime.

I first had blueberry buckle when a friend made it for a ladies prayer group when we lived in Buffalo, NY. It was really delicious and I found a recipe for blueberry and peach buckle in one of my cookbooks. I adapted it to make with just blueberries. Then one year on the Queenship of Mary, I was thinking of a way to honor Our Lady. I thought of the blueberry buckle as a really neat way to honor her, especially since my friend made her's in a pie dish, resembling a crown shape. It was perfect. Since then I have been making it on other Marian feast days, and now for the kids it has become a family tradition. We will continue to make blueberry buckle for Our Lady.

Blueberry Buckle (Adapted from The Joy of Cooking)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a pie pan.

The Topping:
Blend until crumbly:
-1/3 cup sugar
-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
-1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

The Buckle:
Have ready:
-2 cups blueberries (frozen or fresh, the frozen will take longer to cook)

Whisk together:
-1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine in another bowl and beat until slightly fluffy:
-1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
-1 cup sugar
-1 large egg
Gradually beat in:
-1/2 cup milk
Blue for Mary!
Add the dry ingredients and stir until they are just moistened and the batter is smooth. Carefully fold
in the blueberries. Put into the prepared pie dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle the topping over the batter.

Bake for 50-55 minutes (or 60-65 if using frozen berries), until the top springs back when touched and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool 20 minutes on a rack before serving.


I am joining a group of Catholic Bloggers doing monthly themed posts. This month is for Mary. Please check out the other blogs and posts!

Catholic Bloggers Collective

Friday, August 23, 2013

Seven Quick Takes-Friday, Aug 23 (Caution! Scary Basement Pictures!)

1. I write these quick takes as I listen to my first St. Louis Cardinals game this season. It is almost September. I feel like an awful fan. I am really sorry about this guys. I have been checking the standings all season and reading my St. Louis Post Dispatch baseball app occasionally. I am not sure what happened this summer, maybe we moved and then the basement was chaotic. Listening to games reminds me of when I was in high school and would listen to every single game playing solitaire the whole time, or keeping score on my homemade scorecards. Before the games I always listened to "Sports Open Live" on KMOX. I even called in a few times. I was pretty obsessed with baseball. I am trying to convince M to let me display my Mike Matheny bobble-head when the basement is finished. I am thinking he won't go for it...

2. Tomorrow is my mom's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!! You are a wonderful and holy woman. Thank you for your example of a beautiful life!

3. I harvested my first tomato from the garden today. I think maybe that I am not watering the plants enough, but it was pretty good anyway. I am going to wait until it is a little redder next time:

4.  Saga of the Leaky Pipe Update:  We first found the leak on June 29. This week was demolition week. A demolition team came out and spent two days riping out knotty pine paneling and the drop ceiling. The basement looked worse than ever with piles of rubble on the middle of it. I did not take a picture of it since it was painful. Today they surprised us and sent out a carpenter to do the framing for the drywall including that for our spare room (egress window to be put in at a future date). I think I am going to call it "the sewing room" in hopes that I actually sew something. And now I am going to treat you with some pictures.
The "Sewing Room" framing. One day this might have two bunk beds and teenage girls in it...   
The laundry room through the "sewing room" wall.
The family room, stairs, and door for M's study.
5. Soon we will have to decide on wall and carpet colors. We are getting the same carpet in the study, stairs, family room, and sewing room. The question is, what style would be good for all four places and what color. I really want the basement to be a happy, cheery, warm place to be, but I want a carpet style and color that won't look outdated in a few years. I feel like the choices are a beige color or maybe gray. Would grayish carpet be too gloomy in a basement? As for walls I really want a nice soft yellow color.
I found this palette on Pinterest.

Any thoughts on using the yellow for the walls and the gray or cream for carpet? Will this look totally outdated in a few years?

6. M's summer night class that he has been teaching is over. I have learned a lot about my vocation having to put all three kids to bed two nights a week. I am not sure I want to go into detail right now, but I think I am closer to the kids because of it and have more confidence in my ability to care for the children at bedtime alone...

7. I feel like I need to make a big deal about our first day of home school preschool for G. I am feeling a little left out with all these "first day of school" photos on Facebook. But you see in Minnesota, I have heard it is not acceptable to start school before the end of the State Fair which ends on Labor Day. I think this is reasonable, since in Minnesota Winter is so long and Spring comes so late. It is good to give the kids a few more weeks to run around outside before they are cooped up for 6+ hours a day (another great reason to home school). If you are my Facebook friend, we are still having summer here, so look for the first day of school photos after Labor Day.

For more Quick Takes head on over to Jen's Conversion Diary.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Kuplink! Kuplank! Kuplunk!

The two girls each had a little tin pail as they eagerly ran to the blueberry bushes. Kuplink! One found a blueberry and dropped it in her pail. Kuplank! Her sister found a berry. Kuplunk! That is how it went as the girls ran amongst the bushes picking a berry here and a berry there, asking to try them, and looking for the bears.

Their excitement at picking blueberries was inspired by the Robert McCloskey's book, Blueberries for Sal. It is a sweet little book about a girl and her mother who go to Blueberry Hill to pick berries for canning and a bear and her cub who are also on the mountain. I love the simple story, and the depiction of a small child wandering about eating blueberries to her heart's content. The illustrations are really nice as well; my favorite drawing is the canning scene at the end of the book. I admire the mother in the story for canning with a toddler in the midst of her canning supplies.

We checked the book out of the library mid-July and, as we are with library books, held onto it for about three weeks. The girls asked to go blueberry picking, so we made a family outing of it the last week of the blueberry season. The whole week leading up to it they talked about how they each needed a little tin pail (I found these in the $1 section at Target!) and how the blueberries were going to sound as they dropped them into their pails. It was a lot of fun, and next year we hope to go at the height of the season so that we to can get some blueberries for canning.

Another highlight of the trip is that I reached a new level of mom-skills: nursing a baby who was in the baby carrier that I was wearing. It is definitely not my preference, but when the baby is fussing and we are out in a field picking berries there is not really any other option. Further, I had to point out to M what I was doing for him to be able to notice. :)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Seven Quick Takes- Saturday, Aug. 17

1. I seem to be not able to get to Quick Takes until Saturday this month, but here I am with them. I usually write them during naptime, but yesterday I was running some errands while M held down the fort. I was out at a thrift store looking for some good deals, but it seemed like everything that I liked was the same price that I would pay for a new item in store. I suppose I should be doing my thrifting on their discount days. I also could ask M for a "mom morning" once his class is finished and run out to a store for which I have a gift card.

2.  I need to find some time to update the kids clothes as well. I am pretty sure G will freeze in a few months if I don't find some new winter clothes for her. We are at the end of the toddler sizes for her (5T) and I am approaching a new sizing variety as in "girl sizes." How does size 4 girls compare to 4T? Or size 5 to 5T? And I am happily accepting anyone's unneeded clothing for girls, because that will save me the effort of finding time and shopping...

3. We had the long awaited visit of my sister (+unborn baby), her husband, and their three girls. This is the first time we have lived in a place big enough for them to visit and stay with us. The original plan was for them to sleep in the basement family room, but since that was not available they all squeezed into the nursery and F roomed with M and me. It was a fun visit with lots of playing by the cousins, many books read (including some by my oldest niece!), a girl's only visit to IKEA, double family outing to the zoo, and pizza. Our house was deemed "fun" and we hope to have many more visits.

4. On Monday evening we had an interesting event. L (2.5) was declared to me that she saw "gooses" walking up the street. When I looked out the window, this is what I saw:
Gobble, Gobble!

 There seem to be wild turkeys living in the neighborhood. We will have to hunt for them come November. It was pretty exciting to have turkeys running around in the neighbors yard. Clearly we are city folk...

5. House Update: The Saga of the Leaky Pipe continues. The asbestos has been removed and our basement continues in the hated ugly basement state. I really do not like unfinished basements. But there will be an end to this that we will be happy with. We are going to have the whole basement re-carpeted and what is called a "storage room" walled in on one end of the large family room. We hope to put in an egress window in the next few years and have an additional bedroom in the basement. So, in the end this whole crazy leaky pipe ordeal may turn out for the best, and all work will be covered by the claim money!
Ugly basement floor... :(
6. The baby (9 months) now says "ma, ma, ma, ma." She said "ahh-da!" first, but that is okay since that happened only a week before Mama. :)

7. It is supposed to be in the 80s and maybe the 90s this week, and I am glad. I am not really looking forward to our first frost in a few weeks, so another week with REAL SUMMER WEATHER is quite welcome to me. I am really starting to miss high 90s and 100% humidity from June 1-Sept 1 like I grew up with. We are going to end our summer with a visit to St. Louis, so hopefully I will get more of my fill of it while eating Ted Drewes Frozen Custard.

P.S. We are going to be visiting Buffalo at the end of September... M is going for a professional obligation so we are tagging along. :)

Head on over to Jen's Conversion Diary to read more Quick Takes.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Seven Ways to Stay Close When Family Lives Far Away

I grew up in the same city as my dad’s side of the family, but my mom’s side was a nine hour drive away. Somehow I always felt close to my mom’s side even though we only saw them twice a year. My husband and I are raising our children far away from both sides of the family, and we work hard to keep in touch and have our children grow up knowing and loving their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Here are some of the things we do:

1. In Person Visits: I am so thankful that I live at a time when traveling long distances can be done in a day instead of weeks. We visit both sides of the family (who live 8 hours and 12 hours driving from us and 9 hours from each other) at Christmas time and also during the summer. That is about twice a year. Most years they will visit us in the autumn and/or the spring. That means we see each other about four times a year. Usually our road trips include stops at our grandparent’s homes or family gatherings with the extended family. The visits allow us to set aside days at a time to spend time with each other, which we might not normally do were we not living so far apart.

2. Telephone Calls: I am also thankful for unlimited long distance! It was not that long ago that long distance phone calls cost a person by the minute. I can call my parents or siblings whenever I want for however long I need to. I call for advice, to chat, or to share a silly story. And I let my kids chat. Though we have found video chat to be more effective for children.
3. Video Calls: My kids Skype with their grandparents about once a week. It starts off with some disjointed conversation where I fill in what we have been up to lately and then the kids request to be read to and they sometimes spend close to an hour with their grandparents reading them stories over the internet. I am pretty sure it is a cherished activity all around. We also Skype with my sister and her children, so the cousins can see each other and interact more than just during their visits.

4. Social Media: I have found that people use the social medias differently, and for me I post things about my children on Facebook mainly for those relatives and friends who care to know about my children are doing or what they look like. Even mine and my husband’s grandparents have Facebook accounts. I know that if I share a photo of the kids on there, that they will see it and be glad. One of the reasons I have my personal blog, is so that those who I do not always get a chance to talk to or email can know what is going in my life.

5. Texting (as opposed to Social Media): Sometimes I take a picture on my phone that I would rather just send to the most immediate relatives. Sharing every moment on the internet is a little too much for friends who do not particularly care to see what my children are doing, but sharing a sweet moment with an uncle is just right.

6. Snail Mail: My children love to make cards for their relatives, and a birthday is a great reason for them to decorate a card for a relative they love. Or some of that artwork the children make can just be sent in the mail to someone who would love to receive it.

7. Prayers: Praying for family is the best way to stay close to family whether you live nearby or live far away. Praying for others fills your heart with God’s charity for them, drawing you into a deeper union for them. Asking your family to pray for your intentions opens your heart to their love and God’s love through them. And prayer reminds us that even though we live far apart in this life, if we live holy lives we will be able to be united through all eternity with those that we love in Heaven.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Right Baby at the Right Time

I have been thinking a lot lately about the personality and temperament of each of my children, and one of the things I have noticed is that each child's temperament fit with the time of life that I had them in perfectly. It seems like God knew the kind of baby that I would need at each time and gave that child to me.

For example, F (9 months) is the most laid back baby I have had. She is happy to play alone for long stretches, and in fact gets upset sometimes when others interfere with her solo play. She was born right after we moved to a new city and then we decided to start house hunting when she was three months old. Things were supposed to slow down after we moved into our house this June, but with the leaky pipe and the long wait for repairs to be completed in the basement, things are still fairly high stress in our home. F is teaching me to be more like her with her laid back, patient, simple personality. She also goes to sleep really easily which is exactly what I need when there are so many other things making life stressful. A baby that sleeps makes it all a lot simpler to a busy mom.

Not the current baby... :)
L (2.5) was my baby at a time when life was fairly settled. I had established a good support system of friends in Buffalo and she fit right into our family life. She was a very high strung baby, but also very cheerful. She made life joyful, so her mood swings were not stressful but just taught me to attend to her based off of her personality and not panic when she screamed at the top of her lungs about small problems.

G (4), my first baby is more like me, and maybe that was best for me with my first baby when I knew nothing about taking care of babies. Our moods often fit and reflected each other, and with her I learned how to be a mom. I still am learning how to be a mom with her as we encounter all of our firsts. And with such a laid back baby sister, our first year of more serious preschool home schooling should be easier to tackle.

God really does provide in a growing family, giving the right baby at the right time.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Seven Quick Takes-Saturday, August 3

1. I have no excuse for not writing these yesterday, except that I wanted to sit and read Sense and Sensibility during naptime. I am on a rereading kick this summer, and Jane Austen has been come to again. It is also in research for a writing piece I am mentally working on which I hope will be written eventually. It is taking more thought that I expected.

2. M and I both have finished rereading The Lord of the Rings, and so we decided to re-watch the movies. The Hobbits just made it to Rivendell and well we decided we cannot watch anymore. Peter Jackson did not get Tolkien and I am pretty sure that he did not actually read the books, because his way of telling the story is so different from the book that it is not even the same story. I really need to stop watching movie versions of books that I think are great and that I love... don't even get me started on how the movie of The Last of the Mohicans totally got Natty Bumpo's character wrong...

3. House update: The asbestos should be removed early next week as long as the contractors and the insurance company keep things moving, and the main basement room is going to get a total redo so that it all matches. Hopefully we will get to go over the details of what will be done this week, ie. redo knotty pine paneling or switch to dry wall, carpet style and color, etc...

4.  G (4) picks up on random phrases from books and nursery rhymes (which is what makes reading them to her so great). This week her phrase has been "I don't think I can bear it!" or a toy will "not be able to bear" something. It is pretty cool to hear her explore language and use new phrases without any hesitation.

5. G and L (2.5) like to act out the stories we read to them. I overheard them playing the other day and L was pretending to be "Baby Carrie" from the picture book based on Little House in the Big Woods. I asked G who she was pretending to be, and she explained that she was pretending to be one of her friends (who happens to be the daughter of T).

6. Since he does not have his own blog, my last two quick takes are one's inspired by M. He has been into Leonard Cohen this week and he shared Cohen's song "Suzanne" with me. Now he really wants me to feed him tea and oranges from China (picking at my dislike of people forgetting that my name is not Suzanne, but Susanna, as in "O, Susanna"). M has decided that Cohen's way of combining sexual and theological references is very incarnational and makes him think of the Theology of the Body.

7. This song just came into M's head. And I reminded him that it was one of my theme song the summer and autumn that we were broken up while he was discerning his vocation.

Head on over to Jen's Conversion Diary to read more Quick Takes!
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