7 Reasons for Blog Neglect in 7QT

So. Hi there. It's been a while, amirite? I have lots of lame-o excuses totally legit reasons for going AWOL, so here they are in Seven Quick Takes:

1. Well, this happened on July 2nd.
Little Irish debuted at 10lbs 5oz and hasn't stopped growing yet. He's precious and mellow and brilliant and the snuggliest baby ever who gives hugs JUST BECAUSE. And by hugs I mean that he slams his forehead into my face or body and vigorously shakes it back and forth. He's our favorite little boy in the world and we love him so much!

2. See these?
They are just a small sample of the tissues my family massacred during our eleventy billion colds from September to four seconds ago (ah-CHOO ah-CHOO WILL IT EVER END). It seems that Ninja Girl is a kind of strep throat Mary who brings all sorts of fun diseases home from school while avoiding infection herself. Thanks, sweetie.

3. School! School happened too! No-longer-wee Ninja Girl started kindergarten in September and is doing great. It's one of the few half-day programs left in our state, thank goodness, and she is thriving. Not that I'm surprised, she is a real social butterfly, unlike her mother. And her father.

Look how much they've grown!

4. All hope of my social life is not lost, however, as I did manage to find and join a local Catholic mom's group, through which my kids and I have made wonderful friends. It's been inspiring to meet other moms facing the same challenges as Catholics in our society. I have learned a lot already!
My lonely, socially awkward self, but with awesome boots.

5. Oh, that? That is my new piano. Because I needed another hobby...

6. Guess what is outside in my front garden right now. A rosebush? Nope. Gorgeous perennials I tenderly planted in the Fall that are now blooming beautifully? Uh uh. Half dead azaleas? Well, yes, but NEVERYOUMIND. My snow shovel? Why, yes, it is still sitting outside the front door. Yes, it's May. But after the winter we had, I am not taking any chances. Nope, nope, nope. Besides, if I take it inside and then it snows EVERYONE WILL KNOW IT WAS ME and I just don't need that stress in my life.

7. Our most recent project: Little Irish into the girl's current room, girls into the former guest room. it involves dealing with piles of junk, buying/making new furniture, sheets-into-duvet projects, canopies out of old curtains, painting, removing closet doors, Pinterest, and so very much dust. I hope to have a post in the future detailing some of the projects I undertook to maximize storage in a small room and make it extra fancy on a budget.

And there you go. Ten months of insanity in Seven Quick Takes. I'd figure out some sort of mathematical equation for that, but English Major, so...

Thanks to Jen @ Conversion Diary for hosting!


Don't go until you've had some, you guys.

Oh.  Hello.

It's been a while, hasn't it.

Love the haircut!  Have you lost weight?


Life is a bit different around here... Wee Ninja Girl and Sillypants have a new brother to play with.  I'll call him Little Irish because his name is Irish and he looks every bit of it.  He's mellow and adorable and we love him to pieces!  He's four months old today, but he's enormous and eats all the time.  All. The. Time.

But, despite the crazy that encompasses my life, I miss writing, even if it's about the boring stuff I do.

I've decided to jump back to it and see if I can hang on for more than a couple months this time!

So, since Hallowe'en has come and gone and it's obviously the holiday season, I've decided to repost the Figgy Pudding recipe.  It's fabulous stuff and not surprising at all that the folks in the sone WON'T GO until they get some.


Mary Cratchitt's Figgy Pudding*
  • 16 oz. dried Calimyrna Figs
  • 1 ¾ cup milk
  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 ½ tsps baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup butter; melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 ½ cup fresh bread crumbs (3 to 4 slices white bread)
  • 1 tbsp grated orange peel (bottled)
Brandied Hard Sauce
  • 1 ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ cup butter; softened
  • 2 tbsps Brandy
  • ½ tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 2.5 quart metal pudding mold or fluted tube pan. I recommend spraying every square inch of the pan with Pam or your friendly neighborhood grocery store brand vegetable spray. Seriously, spray that thing until it drips. Well, maybe not that much, but close.

Chop the stems off the figs and then cut them into small pieces. I find it helps to slice each one once longways and then two or three times across. They will be really sticky, so as soon as you finish chopping them up, wash your knife and cutting board.

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, cook figs and milk, covered, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally (mixture may look curdled). Be careful not to let mixture boil.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.

In a large bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat eggs for 1 minute. Reduce mixer speed to low; add butter, bread crumbs, orange peel, and warm fig mixture. Gradually add the flour mixture; beat until just blended.

Spoon mixture into the greased mold, smoothing the top. Use the spoon to push the mixture into all the cracks and crevices of the mold, and try to get the top as even as possible. Next, cover the mold with a sheet of greased foil.

Place the mold in a deep roasting pan and place on the oven rack. Pour hot tap water into the roasting pan to come 2 inches up the side of the mold. Bake the pudding for 2 hours or until it is firm and pulls from the sides of the mold.

While it is baking, mix the hard sauce. In a small bowl and with mixer at medium speed, beat all sauce ingredients until creamy. Refrigerate if it is not served right away. It makes about 1 cup of sauce, which should be enough.

Remove pudding from water bath; remove foil and cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto serving plate and remove mold. Serve warm.
*I originally found this recipe online several years ago, but the website where it was posted no longer exists and I haven't been able to find it again. Luckily, I had printed it out and am now returning it to its internet home.

The sauce is extremely sweet, so don't overdo it! I like to put some on it while the pudding is hot and let it seep in, and then keep some extra for those who have a sweet tooth. Or twelve.

Let the holiday preparations BEGIN!!!


Seven Quick Takes Friday

1.  So, it's been a while since I've posted.  Since my last post, I've driven the girls to Albany and back to serve as slave labor paint my parents' bedroom and visit family, made two Halloween costumes, and....

Okay, so that's about it for big things, but I somehow tumbled into a veritable abyss of busywork that's kept me occupied most of the time. 

2.  Things I have not yet managed to do: weed the gardens, rake/compost/bag the leaves, vacuum out the cars, mow the lawn, sweep the deck, ready the potted plants for winter, make rice crispy treats with WNG, clean out the girls' closet, clean out my closet, clean out any other overcrowded closets, undungeonify the basement, locate-purchase-paint-set-up a bookshelf for the girls' room, brown-betty some apples, carve at least one pumpkin, make my bibliofairy costume, and nine kazillion-florillion other tasks that must—MUST!—be done before the winter.

3.  Wee Ninja Girl's secondary Halloween costume: 

The shell is made from two 22"x11" red felt half circles with fishing-line-spool-diameter black felt spots hot glued on, then sewn with a zigzag stitch to a black "youth cut" t-shirt. 

The wings are made from a single piece of black netting cut in the approximate shape of ladybug wings, knotted in the center, and sewn onto the t-shirt just under the spot where the half-circles meet.  Those were sewn through the red felt with more zigzag stitching.  The wings are tied onto WNG's wrists with black yarn threaded through two 1/4" grommets on each wing.

The headband is a cheapo plastic thingy with black pipecleaners wrapped around it and fed through two holes punched in a strip of black felt that was hot-glued to the plastic.  The giant pompoms (chosen by WNG and way too heavy for the double pipecleaners) are hot-glued onto the pipecleaners.  Easy-peasy, minimal sewing, and one very happy ladybug!

4.  I should clarify: WNG has two Halloween costumes because last year I made her a satin and brocade princess dress (hot pink, her choice!) and while it still fits her this year, she was supposed to dress up for preschool today and I didn't think satin/brocade + preschool was a stellar idea, so I whipped up the ladybug for her to wear to school. 

5.  Little things that make me happy:

 This rather plain butcherblock microwave cart has CHANGED MY LIFE.  My awesome-in-laws don't need it in their new kitchen, so they offered it to us, and even though my kitchen is puny, it fits in the breakfast nook and gives me 50% more food storage.  Yes, folks, 50% more!  No exaggeration, I promise!  My kitchen has a grand total of six cabinets, including the under-sink cleaning-chemical wasteland.  I used two for food, and now I have three!  I was also able to move the wine rack off the refrigerator and make it much more accessible, because, well, do I even have to justify it?

These little salt and pepper shakers belonged to my dad's father's mother, and may have even belonged to her mother.  I don't keep salt or pepper in them, but I keep them out because there's something so sweet and cute about them without being too kitschy. 

WNG cut these leaves out of construction paper a few weeks ago (I drew the shapes and hoped for the best!) and she did a great job for her first ever try with scissors.  They kind of blow out the door every time we open it and three of them ripped off today, but I think they are festive and beautiful and she is so proud of them!

6.  So much for the "quick" part of this...

7.  Happiness is...

Thank you to Conversion Diary for hosting!


Seven Quick Takes Friday!

1.  So... that running thing... that Couch-to-5k endeavor that was going to make me like—nay, LOVE—jogging and open new worlds of competitive exercise... that little thing...

Yeah, so it turns out that I really don't like running.  At all.  I've made it to Week 4 and it hasn't grown on me one barnacle.  It makes my hips and knees hurt, aggravates my asthma, and it's too darn cold to be outside in the mornings. 

PLUS, I can't seem to find good earbuds that cost less than $10.  The ones I swiped from EP Dude's iPod every morning (well, they are actually mine but his wore out and he uses them every day at work so he swiped them first) don't stay in while I stagger jog.  I got some new-style ones that are apparently supposed to connect directly to your brain, but they hurt like the dickens.  I even tried some over-the-ear ones, completely forgetting that I WEAR GLASSES, and they also hurt like the dickens.

Therefore, I think I quit and will look for some other, indoor, non-earbud-requiring exercise videos I can get on Netflix.  I may even use the Wii fit for more than the fun games, but not until it stops groaning every time I step on.

2.  I still have not made apple brown betty with those Galas, but maybe I will tomorrow.  I'll have to use them soon, I think.  EP Dude would prefer apple crisp, but I'm not a big fan of the oaty texture of those.  I'd rather have the buttery, brown-sugary, cinnamony crumble topping of a brown betty.

And now I'm hungry again.

3.  Which I shouldn't be, because JUST LOOK at what I had for dinner:
That's right, baby.  Homemade chili, made-from-scratch cornbread, and a Saranac Oktoberfest Ale.  Perfect for a cold, windy, occasionally rainy Friday!

4.  Thankfully, the Oktoberfest Ale wasn't pumpkin flavored at all.  Am I the only human in the United States who doesn't like pumpkin?  I don't even like pumpkin pie, let alone pumpkin-flavored anything.

It kind of makes me think of the people who like to deep fry everything at the state & county fairs.  I mean, oreos?  Kool-aid?  Really?  I'm sure there will be pumpkin oreos and Kool-aid before we know it.


No thanks.

5.  Yesterday kicked off the Year of Faith, marking the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism.  I've bought the companion book for my Nook, but I'm still working through the intros.  I also will be getting a portion of the Catechism emailed to me daily so I can read the whole thing in one year.  (And... I'm already two days behind in that too, so...)  It will be good for me to focus on this, though, and try to clear out some extra space in my day for the Lord and His Church, because who doesn't need that?

6.  Wait, I'm only on 6?  Sigh.  Um... Oh, I know!  Happy I Love Yarn Day!  I'm sure there are all sorts of witty sayings typed onto pretty pictures of yarn that I could find and post, but I think I'll keep it simple here. 

I do like some good, natural fiber yarn, though.  Since we bought our new-to-us van, I am on a yarn buying freeze until I use up my stash.  I think I'd like to make myself a new winter hat, maybe a knitted slouch style from some KnitPicks Wool of the Andes (bulky) that I bought last year.  And maybe I'll finish up all the other projects I started, like my sister's fingerless gloves or my brother's scarf.

I will, you guys, I promise!

7.  Whew!  Here's some more awesome recorder music, although it's not me this time.  Please enjoy the Loeki Stardust Quartet:


Thanks to Conversion Diary for hosting!


Falling for Fall (SO original, I know!)

I really love autumn.  The leaves, the crisp air, the earthy colors, the soups and stews, the baked desserts, the dying of the bugs, all of it! 

I love that I can boil water for tea without overheating the house.

I love how my kitchen table looks with this neat runner my mom found at a thrift store and a bean pot EP Dude bought at a church-sponsored world goods sale years ago:

So warm and cozy!
  I love that it's apple season and I can get yummy local apples everywhere.  These Galas are just BEGGING to be baked into a brown betty or applesauce, don't you think?

Yummy local apples!
 I love that I actually managed to complete a fall craft project BEFORE Advent for once!  This banner is made of felt and embroidery thread.  I made 2.5" x 7" diamonds (measured from corner to corner) from four colors of felt.  I got three diamonds out of each felt sheet with plenty to spare.  I split the embroidery thread into 3-strand bunches and free-handed the letters.  It says "harvest time" on the front, and "give  thanks" on the back, so I can leave it up through Thanksgiving.  When all the triangles were lettered and whip stitched (really badly) together, I threaded some brown yarn through them all and looped the ends over stick-on hooks.

Some festive bunting!
  I've been noticing a trend in hand-crafted bunting decorations lately, and thought it would be something simple to add some seasonal flavor to my otherwise undecorated abode.  I may have to figure out something similar for Advent and/or Christmas, although it's WAY too early to think about that, right?  Right?
 Today was a typical Rochester, NY, autumn day, which means it looked promising at one point, but rapidly turned gray, windy, and rainy.  So, I covered the dining room table with newspapers and set WNG up with her watercolors.  In between being called in to check on her progress ("Mom! Mom!  Come see!  I added a dot of purple here!  Mom!  Mom!  Look!  It's a yellow line!"), Sillypants and I read all the books she picked out—mainly the weird, poorly written ones I always try to discourage/hide/throw away—and had a lot of fun.

I do try to spend as much one-on-one time with Sillypants, although she seems just as independent as her big sister thus far.  It's nice when I can do so while WNG is still home (as opposed to being in school) so she can see that Sillypants deserves my attention just as much as she does.

At any rate, WNG happily watercolored and Sillypants happily sat with me reading until maybe the eighty-seventh request for me to see the latest painted blob.  When I went into the dining room, I noticed that WNG had some blue paint on her lips. Thinking she wiped her mouth with a painty hand, I told her to keep her yucky hands away from her face. 

"Oh, okay," she replied, exposing her blue teeth.

Remaining unflappably calm (HA!) I gently requested that she open her mouth, further exposing her very blue tongue.


Her: "ONLY FIVE TIMES!  No, less, four times.  Or maybe seven?"


Sillypants: *grabs one of the paper cups filled with brown paint-water and drops it on the floor*

Me: *sob*

So, here are the four pictures she painted.  They are, clockwise from upper left:

1.  A tree and a mountain and a square for EP Dude's brother and sister-in-law, whom we will see this weekend.  (WNG asked me very particularly if they like SQUARES because she painted one under the mountain.)
2.  A rainbow for me.
3.  A sun, a cloud, a blue horse with red stripes, her red handbrint, some grass, and a tree trunk.
4.  The view out a window.  It's the window of someone we don't know, though, and that blue swoopy caterpillar shape is the windowsill.
Well, EP Dude is home, naptime is over, and it's time to realize that I have no idea what to do for dinner, even though as the at-home parent in this equation, it's kind of my job to have these things figured out.

Maybe we have enough leftovers for everyone...


Sunday Fun

So, my folks came by for a visit this weekend, and we tried to cram in as much fun as possible.  After Mass and a nice breakfast out with my Awesome-in-laws, we came home intending to swap church clothes for jeans and sweatshirts and cruise out to the town park for a nice hike.

Me:  We can be all changed and ready in FIFTEEN MINUTES, you guys!  SRSLY!
Universe:  Bwahahahaha!

After about 13 minutes, we were nearly ready to jump in the van when Wee Ninja Girl skipped upstairs to do something very important in her room.  I was on my way down when I saw her emerge, her eyes in that saucer-wide "something-ain't-right-but-I-don't-know-if-it's-bad-enough-for-tears" expression.  It turns out that a nearly dead wasp somehow landed on her foot and stung her middle toe through her socks.  It also turns out that it was bad enough for tears PLUS shrieks PLUS ice PLUS cuddles from Sillypants, who was more than happy to oblige.

Anyhoo, 45 minutes after we got home from breakfast (well played, Universe), we were in the van and on our way.  It turned out to be a gorgeous day for an autumn stroll!

The leaves are on their way to peaking, the air was crisp and clear, and it wasn't raining yet, so we had a blast.

Sillypants on the loose!

WNG leading the way into the woods

 We hiked the entire loop at our park, which is just over a mile.  Even Sillypants did the whole thing, AND we played at the playground for a bit.

I really love our park; it's not very big, but there are a couple nice trails in the woods and by a pond.  We saw some deer, lots of chipmunks, and a squirrel or two.  There weren't a lot of people on the loop, so I could let Sillypants walk/run/pick at the gravel all she wanted without being in anyone's way.

Meet Harvey

We managed to come home with a pet, too, hoping he (she?  How does one tell with caterpillars?) lasts through the winter and we get to see him (her) develop into a moth.  My mother named him (okay, FINE, we're just pretending it's a boy) Harvey and he's living on the deck in a popcorn jar.  WNG is very excited to feed him two blades of grass every day.  It will be good practice if we ever upgrade to something more substantial, like a ladybug.

I keep forgetting that tomorrow is a holiday and EP Dude will be home.  I hope to get out for a walk/jog in the early morning (repeating week 4 of the couch to 5k, sigh) and then it's the usual laundry/dust/vacuum schedule.  Maybe we'll plant the tulip bulbs and dig out the garden to prep it for frost.

Ah, my glamorous life.

In other news, St. Hildegard of Bingen and St. John of Avila were declared Doctors of the Church today!  They join 33 other saints who have been granted this special distinction.  How exciting! 


Seven Quick Takes Friday!

  1. I've always loved reading these from other people and thought I'd try to start.  It's a good way for me to remember to acually write something rather than convince myself that whatever I was going to write was pointless and aimless.
  2. Since Wee Ninja Girl has never gone to daycare or preschool (until now, once a week), I asked her preschool playgroup head teacher how WNG is interacting with the other kids.  Thankfully, Mrs. B. says that WNG is very social and friendly, participates vocally, and is helpful to any struggling kids.  Whew!  Must be doing something right!
  3. On the other hand, Sillypants thinks it's HILARIOUS to wander around wearing a dishtowel on her head in various drapes and angles.  Sometimes she looks like a nun.  Sometimes she looks like a boxer. 
    One of my favorite shots of WNG at Lake Erie this June.
  5. I stopped biting my nails. (Yay, me!)  I was hoping to set an example for WNG, who has picked up the habit (Boo, me!), but she still peels her nails (yes, finger and toe) anytime she thinks there is a "hangnail."  Which is always.  But, I have been trying to paint my nails to keep them strong and feel a little more girly.  Although the color I'm wearing today is called "Gunmetal," so...
  6.  What's that?  What about the crafts?  Well, I did finish a cute Autumn decoration, but I have yet to take pictures of it.  It looks really nice when the sun is shining, even though it's indoors, and it's been gloomy and rainy all week.  I promise to post it as soon as I get a good shot!
  7.  And now, some flauting!  This is a duet with two Alto recorders, played by yours truly and my sister The Queen of Musicke: "Affettuoso" by Telemann.  See?  That wasn't so bad!