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Monday, April 30, 2012

Less is More Challenge–Master Bedroom

bedroom challenge

Yes friends it is time to launch the Less is More Challenge for May 2012. Our goal it to reduce our possessions by 20% this month. To begin we will be starting in our Master Bedrooms. I know a bit of a change for most of us. I know that for me the bedroom is often last on the list. I know that I normally start my weekly cleaning in the living room and kitchen,
I have my reasons for starting in our bedrooms though. There is a certain satisfaction and a feeling of relief when you can retire to a room that is peaceful and tranquil.
Tackling the Master Bedroom
There is no need to do all of this in one day. Our goal is to finish the master bedroom in one week.  Truth be told I did my closet and bureau  throughout one afternoon. The easy part is the math, simply count how many of each category you have and take out 20 % of those items.  But to help you out I have some guidelines below to follow.
The Closet -
We are going to start with our clothes, next to our bed they take up the majority of the space in our bedroom. To make this easy lets assume that you keep all your clothes in your closet. I know you probably do not but lets go through it. Lets be real, how often do you do laundry? I know that at my house it is a daily occurrence, having said that let’s think critically how many of each particular item do we really need. Keep in mind that you are probably wearing 20 % of your clothes 80% of the time.
I am going to make this as easy as I can for everyone. It is simple math. I only want to you to work my category of clothing at a time. I have listed them below for you. If a category does not fit you skip it! Easy Peasy. The easy math part is this take out all of your, lets say sweaters, lay them out on the bed. Count them. How many do you have?  Now look at those sweaters if you were packing for a trip which ones would you take? Yup those are your favorites and the ones you probably wear 80% of the time.
Now lets count how many sweaters you have. Let’s say you have 10, easy time to let go of 2.
My second point when it comes to clothing is how often do you do laundry a week? If you are like me and do it more than once a week, more like once a day do you really need 10 of anything?  Probably not. Most likely some of your clothes are showing signs of wear and tear, are out of date, don’t fit you well, or you never liked them. Okay it is time to tackle that closet.
Sweaters – we are going to let go of 20% of these this week, take a few minutes and pull out all of your sweaters. Count them. Really, Yes I said count them. If you have 10 sweaters, chances are you are not wearing them all. Some probably have seen better days, some are probably too small, some are only good for those Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties. Okay take a real critical look at ALL of your sweaters. With 10 sweaters you will let go of 2 with 5 just 1. Simple easy math here friends. 20% less sweaters just like that.
Sweatshirts – Okay lets face it do you still have sweatshirts from 20 years ago? I know we do. But again how many sweatshirts do you wear in a week? I don’t wear sweatshirts everyday, even if I were to wear sweatshirts everyday I don’t necessary get them dirty each time I wear them, therefore I don’t need to wash them and I can probably make do with 3 or 4 shirts tops. But lets say I have 7 sweatshirts, I would let go of one, poof 20% less sweatshirts.
 Workout Clothes/Swimwear  – Okay moment of truth here. We all have work out clothes, but are you working out? If you when is the last time you culled your workout clothes, chances are some do not fit anymore, whoo, hoo! They are too big or have stretched out, or have faded. If you participate in road races, how many race t-shirts do you have? Can you wear them all? Time to cull. I know that when I did this I was happy to get rid of some clothes that never really fit me the way I liked.
Jeans – this is an other area many of us tend to accumulate samples in. We have nice jeans, work jeans, colored jeans, jeans with bling. I will make it easy for you. Jeans can be worn more than one time before washing them. Simply hang them back up between weariings. As long as I don’t spill or get mud on my jeans, even work jeans I save them for another day. Now I live in the country so work jeans for outside work are essential, for most people we all need a pair to jeans to do yard work in. Perhaps you need 2 pairs of work jeans if you work outside on a daily basis. Most of us can make do with a good pair of dark wash dressy jeans too. You know the kind you need to go run errands or go to a kid’s soccer/baseball game. I am willing to bet many of you have more than 3 pairs of jeans though. So now is the time to look at them, are they in good shape? do they fit? Count them. Multiply by 20% and figure out which ones no longer work for you.
Work Clothes  For those of us working outside the house, do you need different clothes that are specific to your job? Scrubs perhaps, or dressier clothes than what you would wear at home. Are all of you work clothes in good shape? Do they all still fit? Time to cull. I am working on this one I have more dresses than I can wear in one week. 
Church Clothes  Okay I will say that in our family we do dress up for Church. But I will also say that the clothes are not exclusive to church, We can wear our church clothes to school/work and for special occasions. Take stock of these clothes and lets see what we do wear and does not work for us.
Pajamas – time to throw out those all ratty pj’s tops and bottoms, clean out that drawer.
Undergarments and Socks  match up the socks, go through the undergarments, do they all fit and are they in good shape?
Shoes  Our feet change shape and size throughout our lives, do all of the shoes fit? Do you wear them all? Are they in good shape? how many days of the week do we have? Do you wear more than one pair of shoes a day? Then we  probably only need 10 pairs of shoes tops. I know I like shoes too.

Don't worry if it takes several days to go through your closet and drawers. Don't worry if your spouse is not on board yet. They will soon be when they see the new space in the closet.

Remember you are doing this for you. The benefits of downsizing your wardrobe can be numerous.

Have you joined the Less is More Challenge? You can jump in anytime.
Let me know how you are doing leave me a comment below.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Birthday Boy

this baby face is now 8  and is taking his own pictures!
Today my youngest turns 8. Where does the time go?  It seems like just yesterday he was a little boy. Now he wears a size 4 shoe, no biggie but his 11 year old sister wears the same size. (hence her nickname Peanut).
He is growing up and I can’t wait to see what sort of man he grows into. For now I am hoping he will be like the young man that Rudyard Kipling was writing to.
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Friday, April 27, 2012

7 Quick Takes

Last week was one the craziest of the year for us here. We had our normal crazy Tuesday night, but it was also the week before the Madonna House Tea and Fashion Show. This was my first foray back into volunteer fundraising in a long time. Not only was I involved but the girls also modeled.
katie runwayMoriah fashion show
Not only did we have the Tea and Fashion Show last Saturday morning we celebrated Pumpkin’s First Communion. Some of you may have read the story of how he made his “first”  First Communion when he was 5 1/2, but he felt he missed out on the celebration with all of his friends, some of who he has known for over 5 years.
GEDC0174first communion
I can’t imagine how special it was for him to have his Dad on the altar.That would be Deacon G, making the bunny ears behind Pumpkin.
Peanut finished up her track season last week too. According to her Dad she was real good form. I believe him.
This time next week Deacon G will be in Ireland. He is going over to visit Father Kirby at Silverstream Priory. He will be gone for 10 days. Pray that not only does his trip go well but that all goes smoothly here at home.
As if all this was not enough in the span of 7 days, Peanut (in the blue shorts, center) tried out and is now a Jr. High  Cheerleader. For those of you in our part of the country (Oklahoma) this is a BIG deal. Even bigger still is that I am a Cheer mom. Yup, but not that kind of Cheer mom.
I have some talented and smart kids. we recently found out that Pi  yes this one that wins academic awards every year scored in the top 2 % of a National Exam. We sat her down and had the “talk” with her. You know the one about performing up to your abilities.
For more 7 Quick Takes head on over to Conversion Diary

Staying Cool when it is Hot Out


Today we are experiencing some unseasonably warm weather. 90 degrees in April anyone? But as you can imagine I am NOT  turning on the AC. Every so called sane person around me has probably done. But I have my standards, and April is just too early for me to turn on the AC, actually May is even too early for me to turn on the AC. So how does one keep cool when the thermometer is rising.
  • Turn on the ceiling fans – but only when you are in the room. A ceiling fan will drop the temperature by 5 degrees by causing a breeze.
  • Plan your cooking for the coolest part of the day, for some this is in the morning, for others after the sun goes down. While you are cooking, go ahead and cook twice as much. This will help you to not heat up the kitchen so much later
  • Eat more uncooked foods. Raw foods like salads and fruits help to keep your body cooler.
  • When the sun comes up close the curtains. Better yet get some curtains that are insulated, not only do they keep out the cold in the summer they keep out the heat in the summer.
  • If you are lucky enough to have the temperature drop when the sun goes down, open the windows at night. Sometimes it is cooler outside then it is inside
  • If it is only marginally warm, open one window downstairs and one window upstairs, at the opposite side of the house. This will create a draft effect and pull the cool air though the house. You can even use a box fan to help pull the hot air out of the house.
  • Don’t run any appliances, like the dryer that will add heat to the house. Better yet use a clothesline if you can.
  • Be sure to stay hydrated, when the temperature rises, we tend to perspire more. This is our body’s way of cooling us off. Don’t try to stop the perspiration, because it is a cooling mechanism, rather drink more and remember water is the best drink for hydrating.
  • Get into some water – go for a swim, water the garden, wash the car or just take a shower. You will cool off your body’s core temperature in doing so.
  • Wear a hat when you go outside, I know you are supposed to wear a hat to keep in body heat, but if you wear a loosely woven straw hat it will shade you and that shade keeps you cooler.
  • If you can’t take a shower, just wet your hair, having wet hair will cool you down.
  • Dress appropriately, think about it, people who live where it is very hot tend to cover up more than they expose. When the humidity is low this works because it keeps the sun off of your skin. I like to wear a light weight shirt over a sleeveless dress. Long flowing clothing will keep you cooler. Natural fabrics like cotton, silk and linen will breath.
  • Run cold water over your wrists, this cools down your blood going back to your heart, and will cool you down very nicely.

What are your Favorite tips for staying cool when it is HOT out?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

10 Things That Make Me Smile


Earlier today I posted over on Facebook 2 things that make me happy. That got me to thinking about so many other things I enjoy and that make me smile. I thought I would share some of them with you.
  1. A Mowed Yard and Pasture – I actually took on this job a couple of years ago, and Monday when we did not have any gas in the gas can I was actually a little sad not to get to this job. Notice I said yard, we do not have a lawn. We have 5 acres of yard, pasture and woods. A lawn requires meticulous maintenance and usually chemicals to maintain it. We have clover, wild onions and wildflowers growing in our yard.
  2. A Vacuumed Floor – we have removed the carpet from 80% of our house and replaced it with solid surfaces. We do have carpet left in our great room. Hopefully not for long. As you can imagine it gets very dirty, but looks so good vacuumed.
  3. A good cup of a hot beverage and a good book on a dreary cold rainy day
  4. A phone call from a friend
  5. Listening to my kids play together in the other room
  6. A bouquet of wildflowers picked by my kids
  7. Spending time outside – whether puttering in the yard, playing with the kids or enjoying a glass of vino on the the verandah.
  8. Watching my kids do something THEY enjoy and get joy out of, this can be participating in a sport or writing, directing, acting in and producing a stop animation movie for the family, or simply playing catch with their Dad
  9. Seeing someone create something from their own mind. My kids love Legos, yes even the girls do too. They will usually make the kit the first time but then after a while will create something new from all the pieces. I love to see my kids or any talented artist, dream up something from nothing, whether it is a meal or a piece of art.
  10. A husband who calls to see if I need anything on his way home. No really this is a big one people. Your see we live a good 6 miles from the nearest store of any type.
How about you? What makes you SMILE?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How Time Flies

My children are growing up! And much too fast in my opinion. Just last year they were little kids all of them, Look I have evidence. Here are some pictures of my kids one year ago.

Okay now yes they are adorable, not just my opinion either, people tell me that all the time. But a year makes a big difference in how a kid looks and behaves.
Katie Fashion ShowMoriah fashion show
Can you believe those girls are the same ones in the pictures above? Mama’s don’t let your girls grow up!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Freeing Ourselves from More

this is part of our Less is More Challenge for May 


Less is More has been one of my mantras for some time now. Some may disagree with me, especially those who subscribe to an abundance philosophy. But less does not have to mean austerity.
For me having less stuff is a form of freedom. When we have less and desire less we are free from so much. I have been working on simplifying my life since the birth of my oldest (how is now 14). I was motivated because I wanted to be able to spend more time with this precious baby I was given, I did not want to spend my time cleaning and taking care of things. I am not a minimalist, though I do confess that life style does have a certain appeal to me. I have found that having less stuff is a form of freedom. When we have less and desire less we are free from so much
  • We are freed from keeping up with the Jones’s – do you really want a boat and all it entails if you will have to to work more to afford it and then don’t have the time to enjoy it?
  • We are free to enjoy what we really like, not what people say we should like and want.
  • We are free to not pay for that storage facility when we have less, thus freeing up money for us to use somewhere else, or at least our time
  • We are freed from taking care of our possessions, the more we have the more time we spend taking care of it.
  • We are freed from worry, about my things.
  • We are freed from the chaos of not being able to find things in the morning, because we have less it requires less time to find something
  • We are freed from worrying about what to wear. I love clothes but I want them to work for me not me work for them.
  • We are freed from worry that a closet door won’t close.
  • We are freed from cleaning as much
  • We have more free time to do what we want to do because we spend less time doing what we need to

In your experience how has having Less freed you up?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Green Thing–Celebrating Earth Day

rainbow earth

I haven’t given much thought to Earth Day this year. I know, gasp. I me I am supposed to be green, right? When I mention many of the green things  we do around our house my husband’s grandmother who is going to celebrating her 80th  birthday in May, says “Oh we used to do that growing up” My own father would have been 74 this May grew up in the same generation as my husband’s grandmother. Their generation lived by the motto Use it Up, Wear it out, or Do Without.
To their geneeration recycling was just plain thrifty and finding a way to reuse something instead of wasting it. My farther regularly used coffee tins to store his nails, screws and other small parts in his shop. I guess my parents passed on this way of living to me,
My mother practiced organic gardening not because it was trendy but because chemicals were expensive. She will tell you stories of the older immigrant ladies in her neighborhood growing up who would pick “ditch weeds” to make salads and teas in the spring,
We used a push mower to mow more than an acre of yard because it was what people did, no gas powered weed eater or edging tool either, we used a hand sheers and kid power.
My parents would find ways to fix things or use things until it could no longer be fixed. My husband and I learned these skill from our parents and grandparents, we do not go out and replace a TV because it is broken we may not replace it all.  If an appliance is not working properly we fix it ourselves, just like our parents did.
Now we recycle because if we don’t who will? We buy less because we don’t really need to keep up with the Joneses, we find ways to reuse or repurpose or upcyle clothes and old furniture because it is fun not because we have to.
I buy old furniture to save money but truth be told it is of a better quality – NO particle board, sold wood construction. The bonus is I have furnished my living room over the years for about $350, less than the price of one cheap couch.
Earth Day is not about planting one tree or making a craft with your kids one day then going back to “normal”. What if we made EVERYDAY Earth Day, and consumed less and recycled more?
Earth Day is a good time to reaffirm all those Green Lifestyle choices we make, and make new resolutions. I know that will be getting back to using my own bags and again and hanging clothes out to dry. What Earth Day Resolutions will you be making this yea?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Less is More Challenge

sun set in ri
"The more you have, the more you are occupied. The less you have, the more free you are.”     Blessed Mother Theresa
Last year I wrote about How we really only use a small fraction of what we own on a regular basis, most of us use 20% of our things 80$ of the time  I undertook a challenge to myself to reduce our possessions by 20%.  This year I would like to invite you to join me in this challenge. There will be a weekly focus/tasks to help you along. 
Think about it. Do you have a closet full of clothes yet wear the same jeans 3 times a week? How about shoes, don’t get me wrong I love pretty shoes and I used to have a closet full, now I can’t wear them anymore, but I still have a closet full of cute but comfortable shoes.
Now lets talk about the kids, do they really need all the stuff they have? I know even though I do my best, my kids possessions seem to multiply like rabbits, what started out as one bin of Legos becomes a whole tote full of Legos. One or two stuffed animals can now fill an ark.
What about your kitchen, do you have any gadgets in there that you have not used since  you got them? Some of us acquire kitchen gadgets because we think it will make us a better cook.
I am issuing you a challenge this for the month of May. Each week we will concentrate on a different area of our homes/life. Our goal will be to simplify by 20% in each area. Not a huge drastic change but a start. There will be ground rules. Number 1 is that whatever you decide to get rid of MUST absolutely leave the house, as soon as possible. no saving it to sell later on eBay or craigslist. If you decided to have a yard sale it should be done by the end of May. Believe me having a finite to end of the decluttering will be very fulfilling.
I hope you will join me on this challenge. We will have lots going on over on Facebook, so be sure to like Granola Catholic over there too.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Safe Cheap Natural Treatments for Lice

itchy scalp
image credit

That itchy scalp, you know the symptoms. Scratch, Scratch, Itch, Itch. That creepy crawly feeling. You check, yup it is lice. Pediatricians say it spikes this time of year because kids are sharing helmets for bike riding and baseball. This week lice hit our household, and it wasn’t one of the kids it was me. One of the hazards of working with kids, I suppose..
Not wanting to use anything toxic on my head I looked to more natural remedies. It turns out that some of my favorite natural products; olive oil, tea tree oil, castile soap, and apple cider vinegar are perfect for treating lice.
Harvard did a recent study that found that lice submerged in olive oil for two hours die due to asphyxiation. Since I did not want to submerge my head in olive oil for two hours I poured it over my head and massaged it in and put a shower cap on before going to bed for the night.
Upon waking up in the morning I proceeded to wash my hair out with a mixture of castile soap, and tea tree oil. I actually had to wash it out about four times to get all the olive oil out. I followed up each scrubbing with a good dousing with vinegar. The vinegar actually helps to soften the glue on the nits.
  • Olive Oil – slather your head in olive oil sit under a shower cap for a couple of hours , A test conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that lice submerged in olive oil for two hours die asphyxiated.
  • I combed my hair with the a metal lice comb, no easy feat, given that my hair is long and thick. 
  • Wash your bedding and clothes in HOT water to kill the nits and lice, changing the sheets frequently
  • Mix some tea tree oil with another carrier oil like olive or almond and coat the hair, put a shower cap on and go to bed. In the morning wash it out with castile soap and more tea tree oil. Rinse it with vinegar. The vinegar helps soften the glue on the nits. I had to wash the hair out several times to remove all the olive oil.
  • Heat is apparently a real enemy of nits and lice so I followed up all this washing with a blow dry and flat iron, this seemed a little foreign, to me since I have not blown dried my hair in months.
Other measures I took to insure that the lice would not make a reappearance I also made sure to wash all my bedding and recently worn clothes in hot water, with the addition of tea tree oil and dried them in the dryer. Again heat kills the lice. It is just as important to wash your bedding and dry with heat to eliminate the lice and nits.
Have you dealt with lice? What are your favorite natural treatments for taking care of lice and nits?

this post is being shared at Your Green Resource

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What to do when you have too much to do


The next four weeks will be absolutely crazy for us here. Actually it has been already. Holy week is one of the busiest times of the year for my husband as a deacon, and he does work a full time job too. We are in the middle of state testing at school, with proms, field trips, musical performances, track meets and on and on. For many of us we have “seasons” that we are busy. Whether it is the college student who has to juggle work and finals, or the mom who has 3 kids in 4 sports. I normally try to keep our schedule a little open but the girls are getting more involved in school, sports and drama.  Lucky for us school ends in about one month. You read that right we will be done May 17th. However it does not seem like summer will be any slower.
So what is one to do when one gets too busy.
  1. Eat Breakfast Every Day – even if it is just a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts, take the time to eat something.
  2. Take 15 minutes each day to look over your schedule, make sure you know where you are going when
  3. Be sure to drink enough water every day
  4. Go to bed – Yes I know that there is a lot to get done, hopefully this season will be over soon, sometimes we can catch up on laundry and housecleaning later
  5. Have a go to outfit or two that you can wear just about everywhere. I have my favorite Little Black Dress. I absolutely love it because I can dress it up or down, it can be casual or elegant, it takes me from day to night, teaching to meetings, to kids practices. The best part is that I can wear it more than one way and more than once a week and no one notices.
  6. Pick one chore and keep up with it. For me it is the dishes. If the dishes are done and the sink is empty I feel instantly better and I feel like I can make a quick dinner, and dinner is always good.
  7. Take 5 minutes for prayer or quiet time. Yes sitting hiding in the car while kids are at practice counts
  8. Smile and take a deep breath. Remember you do not need to do everything
  9. Ask for help. Ask your family, ask your neighbors and ask your friends. Your kids can do more than you think they can.
What are your tips and tactics for surviving a busy time?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Adventures in Kombucha Making Your Own Scoby


About a year ago I discovered Kombucha., yet I was afraid of it for some reason. It seemed mysterious and foreign. I decided to try some store bought kombucha, actually they opened one in the store for us to sample it. I was hooked. I have been ever since. I buy several a week. There are many benefits to drinking kombucha is you are not familiar with it.  One draw back is that it costs anywhere from $2.50 to $4.00 a bottle. I considered kombucha my “Starbucks”.  As you can imagine my husband who found out how much Cliff Bars cost  was keen for me to try to make my own kombucha. Making your own costs about $1.50 a gallon. A  huge savings.
For those of you not familiar with kombucha in a nut shell it a drink made from tea that is fermented. It is rich in probiotics and thus aids in digestion and is detoxifying.
I thought about ordering a scoby online since I could not find anyone who already had some.  I opted to buy a bottle of raw organic kombucha at my local health food store. The people at the health food store assured me that brewing my own kombucha is easy and can be quite fun..  I can assure it it was fun. My son, Pumpkin (7) and I decided to make an experiment with it.  Let me tell you the hardest part is the waiting.
Since I did not purchase a scoby I had to grow my own.  I bought some organic kombucha, the unflavored variety works best, though you can use a one with ginger. 
I assure you that this is as simple as making some sun tea.
To make your own Scoby You will need
  • a clean glass jar
  • a bottle of store bought Organic Raw Kombucha
  • Sugar
  • one tea bag
  • filtered water
  • a kitchen towel
  • time and patience
That is all you need. Like yeast scoby likes things a little warm. The week I decided to grow mine it was a little cool so it took about 10 days to grow a full size mother. The best thing is that my “mother” is already growing babies. Once you grow your scoby you can begin brewing your kombucha. We enjoyed our fist kombucha this week, but you will have to wait to here about that, so be sure to come back to read about flavoring your kombucha.

this post is linked up with Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Wildcrafting Wednesday

Sunday, April 15, 2012

First Communion Take Two


My son will be making his First Communion this Saturday for the second time. Say What? You read that right. My son made his first communion back in the Fall of 2009. He went with his father and older sister to a work day at the Monastery with Father Kirby. While there they attended a mass. Father Kirby happened to accidently give Pumpkin communion. As soon as mass was over Father Kirby realized what had happened and sat down to talk to the boy. It was determined that the sacrament was valid, even though Pumpkin was only 5 1/2 years old. Yup, at 5 1/2 her had a complete understanding of the sacrament. In fact this occasion became a matter of discussion and a teaching moment for Deacon G and his classmates while they were in formation. IMG00237
Since it was not fair to “take away” a sacrament we allowed Pumpkin to continue to receive communion but decided that we would have him receive instruction with his classmates, and enjoy the traditional First Communion Mass.  We also wanted to be able to have family attend and celebrate with us this time. Especially since MOM (me) did not get to be there for the first First Communion.
The banner is made and we are ready. At 3pm on April 21st we will be celebrating a First Communion Mass with all of his friends. Most importantly of we will have pictures to document it this time not just the one taken on a phone camera after the mass (see above).
Joshua Banner
What can I say my family has a pattern of celebrating the sacraments in unusual ways. Wait till I tell write about Pi and her baptism/anointing of the sick.

this post is linked up to The Kennedy Adventures

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Our Teens Need Us


I am pretty sure that most of the people who read my blog are good parents. That is unless you are spending too much time on Pinterest and Facebook. Every kid needs someone, if mom or dad does not take an interest in their lives they still need someone to be their cheerleader, an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on.
Kids of all ages need someone. Working at a school I see how easy it is for people to love all the little ones but by the time some kids get to high school the still need someone who believes in them, who will listen to help and someone who will help them and stand up for them. All kids need help
  • the smart one whose parents wanted an athlete
  • the cheerleader whose parents are getting a divorce
  • the quiet kid who doesn’t talk to anyone else
  • the girl who just broke up with her boyfriend
  • the kid who is failing math or just needs help in English
  • the mean girl (yes she is probably hurting on the inside)
  • the class clown
  • the tough guy/girl
When I my kids were little I was an attentive parent who nursed on cue and carried my babies in a sling. I engaged them in many ways, playing with them/ I listen to them, talk to them and try to build them up. But so many kids do not get that at home. Their parents may be busy with work, some of them working more than 45 minutes away. As teens they are often left to their own devices, to entertain themselves, and live with their own self doubts.
Many of us are quite attentive to the needs of our children when they are small but what about the older child? How do we handle them? We hold our babies close, we carry them and nurture them. Our teens need the same, even if they are not actually of our blood. Many of us encounter teens at church, homeschool groups and neighborhoods. So how we can help these teens even if they are not our own?
  • You can still show teens affection, a small hug, a soft touch, a pat on the shoulder, sometimes that is all it takes.
  • Listen, just be quiet and listen, some teens need to think out loud, just be sounding board without judging.
  • Be available for them, if a teen wants your attention be there for them, be excited for them when they are excited. They need that Teens are still fragile.
  • Support them, they are going through a difficult time. You think the toddler years were bad the teen years are even more tumultuous
  • Pray for them, teens need your prayers. My mother always said that teens need and get an extra guardian angel, but they still need us.
  • Take an interest in what they are doing, even if you don’t know a thing about golf or softball or opera, learn at least one thing about what it is they are doing, better yet ask them to tell you about it. They would love to tell you.
  • Just be there for them, some teens are more quiet they just need someone to sit by them and be there for them.

How are you there for the teens in your Life?

this post is linked up to Simple Lives Thursday

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Do Miracles Happen?


Let me start this by saying I am a realist, a pragmatists, when someone asks me if the glass is half full or half empty, I am most likely looking for my glass because I have lost it.
It is not that I don’t believe in miracles it is that I am looking for the proof. But I would have to say that I just might have to being believing.When I lose something I always say a quick prayer to St. Anthony.  Some of you regular readers may remember last December when my Mother-in-law was hit by a pick up truck while crossing the road one morning.  When my husband called me to give me the news, he had just pulled into work and immediately pulled out. By he drove East to West across Tulsa, my mother in law had been moved to a Level 1 Trauma Center. My oldest was home from school the day of the accident exempt from semester finals. She and I immediately began packing bags for everyone. We did not expect her to make it through the surgeries.  According to my mother in law at one time they gave her a 5% chance of living, at another time they suspected brain damage and said that she had a 5% chance of being able to recognize a person as a human being. The day after doctors said that she started to wake up.
At one point Father Kirby suggested that we pray to Blessed Seelos,

 miracles had been attributed to him. I said a few quick intercessory prayers to Blessed Seelos, and my husband said a novena to him. Not wanting to put all of our eggs in one basket we also took some holy dirt from Chimayo to her. What has happened to my mother in law is nothing short of a miracle. She who was given a 5% chance of living just celebrated another birthday this past Holy Saturday.  The most amazing part to some of you is that my mother in law knows nothing of this, and she is not Catholic, (Deacon G converted)
Do you believe in miracles? Have you ever experienced one?

This post is linked up to Scriptures and Saints Sunday

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Can you Leave Eggs Out?


I enjoy buying my family good eggs, I like to buy them directly from people I know. We tried raising our own chickens but we have found that it was more cost effective to buy our eggs.I really wish we could raise our own chickens like Dwija but it has not worked out for us.   I have always known that fresh eggs did not have to be refrigerated immediately. In fact one of my egg ladies keeps a beautiful egg basket full of them on her kitchen counter..
You may be wondering why I am writing about eggs today. Well it is interesting story. After dropping off kids at school today I was cleaning out the car in preparation for a road trip with my little guy.  Much to my surprise when I went to put something in the trunk I discovered some eggs I had bought at the store on Friday. I was surprised and bemused. I wondered if these eggs could still be good. After all these eggs were store bought, though they claimed to be cage free I am pretty sure they did not come from happy chickens that roam outside.
Did you know that there is a way to check your eggs to make sure they are fresh? Simply get a bowl of water and if they eggs float they are bad and throw them away. Guess what? My eggs all passed the test, but just to be sure I cracked one open. It looked good, not watery and the yolk was intact. It did not smell bad either. Since my husband was still skeptical I took the egg I check and fed it to the dogs, they are all fine.
Yes Virginia, you can leave eggs out. I would like to add that the temperatures were mild while the eggs were in the trunk of the car.
How about you, do you have an interesting story of food left forgotten somewhere?

Monday, April 9, 2012

10 Things I do NOT do

  1. I do not make my own bread anymore.  I did master this skill and became quite adept at it. I love using the recipe in Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. When your health dictates that you eat gluten free you have to make certain sacrifices. Really I don’t miss it too often. but a good loaf of bread sometimes calls my name, but at least it s not piping hot out of the oven with melted butter on it. Some day I hope to go back to eating bread again, but if this past week is any indication it won’t be soon.
  2. I don’t’ volunteer too much anymore, I limit what I do. My time is important to me and I chose to spend it with my family. I do not get involved in everything, I am not a PTA mom and a Cub Scout Leader, I don’t teacher Sunday School. I used to do all those things before but I have found that doing all this took me away from my family too much.
  3. I do not like to go shopping, I hate it. Really I do, I don’t like spending money, I never seem to find what I want, I don’t like the crowds and don’t get me started on customer service. I would like to add at this point that I worked in retail and retail management for more 8 years. I understand how hard the job is, and what dealing with customers is like. I have been there and done that, and for that reason I expect at least good customer service.
  4. I do not program electronics. I have no patience for electronic things, setting up phones, computers and the such. Once they are set up I can handle most things but setting them up nope, not me. So glad we don’t have the flashing time on the VCR any more, since we do not having one in the living room.
  5. I don’t do perfumes or scented lotions. Most commercial scents are made with synthetic oil, not essential oils. Essential oils can be expensive.  I recently priced some for my oldest daughter and it was running $25 per .5 ounce. Not 5 oz. but 1/2 oz. Synthetic fragrances often contain endocrine disrupters and they bring on chemical sensitivities in me. About 20 years ago I could not be a room with people wearing perfume without eyes burning and tearing up. This included church, so I would sit in the back near the door to get some fresh air.
  6. I don’t clean my kids rooms. I used to do this for and then with them, but now I have stopped. I have not quite gotten to my mother’s stage of closing their doors when we have company though.IMG_4808
  7. I mentioned before that I do not do electronics. that goes for not only programming them but for having a houseful of them. My kids did not have any gaming systems in the house until a couple of years ago when we got a Wii, no DS’s no X-box. I prefer my kids get their play the old fashioned way, by going outside.
  8. I don’t do my kids’ school or art projects for them and everyone can tell just by looking at them. (reference the picture at the top)
  9. I do not abide bad customer service. As I mentioned above, I spent some time working retail/management. I know what good customer service is, when I get bad customer service I tend to let the person who is rendering service know that it is bad, not only that I follow up with managers. There is really no excuse for rudeness. On the flip side when I get good customer service I let the person rendering said service know how much I appreciate them going out of their way for me.
  10. I don’t do perfect lawns. I never ever wanted to the perfect suburban lawn. I always wanted a yard, complete with the wild flowers weeds. Did you know that some people consider violets weeds? Seriously, violets are pretty and purple.
What are some things you don't do?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Reasons to Use Cast Iron Pans

(My favorite cast iron pans)
This past year I was looking to replace some of my non stick pans. While I use mostly cast iron I do still have some non-stick pans. Non-stick pans have been known to cause problems. Many of you may have heard that you needed to be careful using non-stick pans in households with birds as they give off a gas that can cause birds to die. Canary in the coal mine, anyone?IMG_7522
When I decided to replace non-stick pans I turned to cast iron. I had several already, and I must admit they are my favorite skillets. Still not sure why I had that pan In the picture above, never mind used it way past its prime
Cast Iron once well seasoned are such a kitchen essential, that I often give cast iron pans at wedding showers. Everyone needs to have at least one in their house.
Why should you use Cast Iron?
  1. Properly cared for they last forever. I do not have any that belonged to my grandmother, but some of my have belonged to someone’s grandmother.
  2. They are fairly inexpensive, yes you can pay a lot for a fancy enamel coated one from France, but you can also find them at yard sales and in flea markets for as little as $1. Yes, I have found them for that price.
  3. They are easy to clean up – you can’t wash them in the dishwasher but you don’t want to either, as they will absorb soap and detergent. To clean them simply scrub with a stiff brush and some water.
  4. Using cast iron may be more energy efficient, since cast iron retains heat you may not have to cook for as long.  I can attest to this as I have a vintage (1960’s) cast iron stove, while it takes longer to heat up it stays hot longer than a new or stainless steel oven.
  5. Well seasoned, a cast iron pan is as non-stick as any Teflon coated pan.
  6. Cast Iron is perfect for cooking outside, whether over an open fire, such as camping or on the grill. I once roasted a Thanksgiving turkey this way.
  7. Cooking with cast iron can help boost your iron levels, especially when you cook acidic foods like tomatoes.
  8. You may be able to cook with less oil, because cast iron are non stick..
  9. There are no adverse effects to cooking with cast iron, unlike Teflon that can give off harmful gases, cast iron is toxin free.
  10. Most cast iron sold in the United States is made here (80%) by Lodge Logic.
I have slowly been replacing all my pans, but I am still looking for some sauce pans. Do you use cast iron pans? Do you have a favorite one?

this post has been shared at Frugal Days Sustainable Ways

Saturday, April 7, 2012

On the Third Day


On The Third Day He Rose from the Dead.

Have a blessed Easter!

peace signature

Friday, April 6, 2012

Getting the Most out of Easter

When I say Easter do you think of this ?
DSCF0035(Peanut at 9 months)

or do you think of this?
So often in our culture we put the emphasis on the worldly, the material. In the case of Easter it would be the basket, the bunny the new clothes and the food.  There is nothing inherently wrong with these traditions but how do we shift the focus and celebrate Easter the HOLY Day instead of Easter the Holiday?
  • Make attending mass or church together as a family the priority. That means the whole family, not just mom while the kids stay home because they are hyped up on candy. 
  • Mass comes before the baskets, many families wake up to the Easter baskets. We started right from the beginning with Mass first. While we were at mass the Easter Bunny would drop off the baskets for the kids to find.  At our house the Easter Bunny drops off the goodies and Mom (me) reuses the baskets filling them and hiding them.
  • Keep the TV off on Easter, send the kids outside to play, weather permitting.
  • Make Resurrection Cookies – best done on Holy Saturday before.
  • Take the Bunny out of the basket. Some churches have the tradition of Blessing Easter Baskets, this does not refer to the the candy baskets but rather a basket of food preparing Easter Dinner. Instead of chocolate bunnies in the basket include a lamb or crosses.

Now it is your turn. How do YOU put the emphasis on Christ in Easter and not the bunny?

Experience Stations of the Cross for Kids

this picture was taken by dh at a Living Stations of the Cross several years ago.

One of my most indelible memories of Lent growing is Stations of the Cross.  We not only attended regularly during Lent, most Friday’s growing up, and definitely on Good Friday, but we also attending special Stations of the Cross events that had us traversing across cities and towns. I remember going to one Stations of the Cross where the priests carried a very large cross from station to station. I also remember attending regularly on Fridays during Lent. What makes these events so memorable is that I attended these when I was young, the same ages as my kids.
When Deacon G and I started having kids, we found ways to take the kids to stations of the cross, Outside Stations are a great option for children especially on Good Friday, where many places do the stations at 3pm, usually a good time for little ones. Outdoor Stations of the Cross are great for little kids, as they are not as confined, they can “wander” a little bit more. Outside stations are more mobile too. Since you move from station to station you are not staying in a pew.
If you are lucky enough to have a living stations of the cross near by I recommend going. One of the Parishes in the big city here does a very dramatic Stations of the Cross, complete with horses. The photo above is from when Deacon G attended with our oldest one year. As I was looking through these pictures, my youngest said “that is soo cool, Can WE go this year?”. I don’t recommend living stations for all ages, because it can be graphic, but apparently my 7 year thinks he is ready.
Some Resources for Stations of the Cross and Children
Printable Stations of the Cross at Catholic Icing
Children's Prayer Stations of the Cross
Catholic Mom - Kid's Stations
I do hope you will consider attending Stations of the Cross this Good Friday with your family.  PS. You certainly don’t have to be Catholic to participate, experience or learn from going to the Stations of the Cross. Don’t worry that your child is too young to get much out of Stations, they will get something out of it. Even the youngest child will pick up on the tone and understand that people were said or that Jesus suffered.
As for my family we will be attending the traditional Good Friday Stations of the Cross at 3pm. Come join us if you are local. I would love to see you there.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Jelly Bean Prayer


 (I am not a fan of Jelly Beans, never liked them but I know many of you do thought this would be cute to use with kids for Easter)
RED is for the blood He gave.
GREEN is for the grass He made.
YELLOW is for the sun so bright.
ORANGE is for the edge of night.
BLACK is for the sins we made.
WHITE is for the grace He gave.
PURPLE is for HIS hour of sorrow.
PINK is for our new tomorrow.
A bag full of Jelly Beans, colorful and sweet. is a prayer, is a promise, is a friend's small treat.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

1 Year Blogaversary


Well another date has sneaked up on me. I started Granola Catholic one year ago today. I was thinking it was more like April 15 but my very first blog post was April 3, 2011.  You can read my first blog post here. You may be wondering how an important milestone in my blogging could sneak up on me.  Seriously I thought my blogaversary was April 15th. I know that is tax day.
I never realized how much writing for an audience would change me, mostly for the best. First of all I wasn’t even sure if people would be interested in what I was, but I thought there would be an audience. One year later and I am proud to say that I have more people reading this that I do not know personally. Though some I feel I have gotten to know in the last year.
I  originally thought about doing a personal blog a couple of years ago. but really it was Father Kirby who urged me to write about so much more. He was positive that I had an audience.  I guess he was right.
Along the way I have been inspired by some bloggers.
  • Kitchen Stewardship – Katy is a Catholic mom who does her best to cook real food for her family
  • Minimalist Mom – I have been working to simplify our lives now for about 5 years, I used to think if I was more organized, but you can’t organize a cluttered house and schedule.
  • Balancing Beauty with Bedlam – The name says it all – doesn’t it – a Frugalista after my own heart
  • Sorta Crunchy – another Oklahoma Mom with a love of things crunchy, frugal and peaceful
  • The Nourishing Gourmet – for my inner foodie
  • Food Renegade – for the healthy food in me
  • Crunchy Betty – for “food on my face” and other Natural Beauty tricks
Along the Way I have “met” some new blogging friends. Look through the comments you are bound to see some of them there.
I wish I could say I had a plan on where this blog is going but I don’t know where it will take me, only time will tell. It has come much further than I thought it would when I started, and I would like say that I am so happy you have joined me on this adventure.
peace signature

Monday, April 2, 2012

Make Your Own Natural Bug Spray


Did you know that the main ingredients in most commercial bug sprays and repellents, Deet, is a neurotoxin and is harmful to the brain. Yup you read that right, harmful to our brains. If you do use deet it is recommended that the bug spray not be applied to the skin, but rather to the clothes.  I have never been a fan of deet before and avoid bug sprays for my family and myself, lucky for us we don’t get many bites these days. Something about a good diet makes you a bad target.
For years I have sworn off bug repellants of all sorts. I have instead incorporated plants into the landscape that help to repel the bugs. This works well when we are at home, but now that kids are old enough to go off to camp they need something to take with them.
Last week I wrote about natural methods to combat fleas and ticks on pets, many of the same methods used on our pets can be used on us; diet, essential oils and vigilance.
Making your own bug spray is not that hard. It is just as easy as making your own cleaners. My favorite bug sprays are easy to make. You can take some of your favorite essential oils and combine them in a spray bottle for a safe and easy effective bug spray.
In an opaque spray bottle combine
  • fill about 1/2 full with distilled or boiled water
  • fill almost to top with witch hazel
  • add 20-30 drops of essential oils of any of the following essential oils: rosemary, lemon eucalyptus, citronella, clove, lavender or tea tree oil.  – The more oils you use the stronger the spray will be
  It took me longer to write this than it did to mix it up . Do you have a favorite remedy for repelling bugs?

This post is linked up to Frugal Days Sustainable WaysWildcrafting WednesdayYour Green Resource


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