Wednesday, February 15, 2017

10 Simple Valentine Food Ideas for Those You Love

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Today we celebrated Saint Valentine's Day with friends from our local homeschool group.  It was a beautiful day to celebrate Saint Valentine, a servant of God, who was persecuted for his Christian faith and beheaded (yikes!) on February 14, 270. 

To read a lovely post and and prayer to Saint Valentine written by a friend's husband, be sure to visit Cecily's post at Cloudy Symbols of High Romance.  Aren't her daughters homemade Valentines the sweetest?!?  Such beautiful, heartfelt traditions the lovely Lowmans have!

I was inspired by this video that I found via Facebook that had lots of simple food ideas for Valentine's Day.  So I brought out my heart-shaped cookie cutters and a few of my kids and I prepared 10 simple foods for our Valentine's Day party! 

When the guests arrived my kitchen table was decorated with a plastic red tablecloth under a plastic lace tablecloth. On the table I had the food set out and a bouquet of red roses my sweet husband gave me. We read the book Saint Valentine that is a family favorite during our morning Couch Catechism time and I printed out a Saint Valentine graphic from Shining Light Dolls Facebook page onto white cardstock

#1 Valentine Food: Heart Pancakes
We made heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast before the party using our cookie cutters as molds.  We added some heart-shaped strawberries. 

#2 & #3 Valentine Food: Heart Strawberries and Rose Strawberries
I've been making the heart-shaped strawberries for awhile now, but then I saw how to make roses from strawberries (see this video). I loved this idea that is really easy to do once you get the hang of it! My 9 year old even made a few.  One of our packages of strawberries had a huge strawberry buried in the container. It reminded me of Jesus' Sacred Heart

#4 Valentine Food: Strawberry Jam Sandwiches
Bread + Strawberry Jam + Heart Cookie Cutter = these cute and simple sandwiches (see this video)

#5 Valentine Food: Heart Clementines
These were so easy and fun to make. Healthy too! (see this video)

#6 & #7 Valentine Food: Heart Watermelon/Pineapple and Heart Candy Canes
I only made a few of the heart-shaped watermelon/pineapple (because my cookie cutter wouldn't cut through and it's messy) and cut up the rest and put it into a bowl (see this video).  I had a small box of candy canes leftover from Christmas so I just laid them in a heart shape as part of the table decorations. 

#8 & #9 Valentine Food: Heart Ham and Cheese Sandwiches with Heart Cherry Tomatoes
Easy to do and I love how they turned out! (see this video)

#10 Valentine Food: Sweet Pretzel Treats
I've made these pretzel treats year round for Christmas and Easter using the corresponding holiday M&Ms.  They are a family and friends favorite any time of year! 

When the guests arrived they decorated homemade Valentine's Day cards for friends family using coffee filters with a cut out heart in the middle like we did several years ago.  The children also made their bags to collect Valentines from friends. 

We then ate lunch and one of our teens made a beautiful chocolate cake and a family brought bags of popcorn in decorative bags. One of my daughters and I made treat bags with M&Ms, Hershey kisses and decorative straws

When the eating was done and the bags were decorated, it was time to deliver Valentines to our friends! 

It was a blessed day to remember such a faithful and strong witness to the Catholic faith!

Saint Valentine, Pray for Us!

To see more Valentine posts from years past, be sure to visit my A Slice of Liturgical Life page

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Celebrating Our Lady of Lourdes: February 11

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On February 11, the Church celebrates another beautiful feast day, Our Lady of Lourdes.  This is one of my favorite Marian feast days because it commemorates the 18 apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Bernadette Soubirous that occurred between February 11 and July 16, 1858 in Lourdes, France.  Our beautiful Lady eventually identified herself in an apparition on March 25 with the words, "I am the Immaculate Conception." If you aren't familiar with the story of St. Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes, you might be interested in reading 10 Things to Know About Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette

We celebrated Our Lady of Lourdes one day early with a simple craft due to a busy soccer tournament weekend for one of my daughters.  My three younger children did the craft while my two older children were attending their science and government co-op classes for the morning.

Last year we did a fun, simple craft as well so I wanted to find another activity that didn't take too much preparation due to our busy day.

I found free printables of Our Lady of Lourdes and the flowers at Rosary Mom.  After coloring and cutting the pictures, my daughters glued them to blue card stock and also glued the words "I am the Immaculate Conception" to the bottom of their paper that I printed out in a word document.

I then displayed their finished art work on our kitchen table along with a white statue of Mary that used to belong to my deceased grandparents, we read from the book Our Lady of Lourdes and from my favorite Saint book for children, Saints for Young Readers for Every Day, Vol. 1, and I put the Our Lady of Lourdes Shining Light Doll and St. Bernadette Tiny Saints charm in the tray.

We also enjoy watching a family favorite DVD from CCC of America called Bernadette: The Princess of Lourdes.  I'm amazed how well my children (and even myself) have remembered the facts about Our Lady of Lourdes from watching this animated movie over and over again through the years.

Maybe one year we will celebrate this special feast day with a Rice Krispie Treat Grotto like Lacy did at Catholic Icing or a Fruity Pebbles Grotto and other crafts or this grotto craft at Catholic Icing.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us! 

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Getting our Throats Blessed in Honor of Saint Blaise's Feast Day: February 3

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Saint Blaise's feast day is celebrated on February 3rd.   In the morning I set up our St. Blaise peg doll and we read about St. Blaise during our Couch Catechism time from Saints for Young Readers for Every Day, Vol. 1.  The St. Blaise prayer card was given to my 3 year old during her Good Shepherd class that she takes at our parish.

St. Blaise lived in the 4th century and it's a tradition to have your throat blessed on his feast day, but why?

When Blaise was sent to prison to be beheaded because he was a persecuted Christian, a poor mother rushed up to him and begged him to save her child who was chocking to death on a fishbone.  The saint said a prayer quietly and blessed the child and the child's life was spared through this miracle.  So on St. Blaise's feast day throats are blessed by the priest as he crosses two candles because he is the patron of those with throat diseases.

We aren't able to get to Mass every year for this special feast day to have our throats blessed to ask God and St. Blaise to protect us from all sicknesses of the throat, but this year we were able to attend morning Mass.   I was able to snap a photo of our priest blessing the altar server with the two candles before each parishioner lined up to do the same.   While the candles are rested near the throat the priest says: 

"Through the intercession of Blessed Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, may you be delivered from all illnesses of the throat and any other ailments. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

The Church is decorated with red linens and the priest wears red vestments because St. Blaise was a martyr for the faith.  His death was gruesome to say the least. From Franciscan Media: Agricolaus, governor of Cappadocia, tried to persuade Blaise to sacrifice to pagan idols. The first time Blaise refused, he was beaten. The next time he was suspended from a tree and his flesh torn with iron combs or rakes that are used to comb wool (and why he is the patron of not only those with throat ailments, but also English wool combers.)  Finally, he was beheaded. 

St. Blaise, pray for us! 

O glorious St. Blaise, who by your martyrdom left to the Church a precious witness to the Faith, obtain for us the grace to preserve within ourselves this divine gift, and to defend — without concern for human respect — both by word and example, the truth of that same Faith, which is so wickedly attacked and slandered in these our times. You miraculously restored a little child who was at the point of death because of an affliction of the throat.
Grant us your mighty protection in similar misfortunes. And, above all, obtain for us the grace of Christian mortification, together with faithful observance of the precepts of the Church, which keep us from offending almighty God. Amen. 

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Celebrating the Presentation of our Lord (Candlemas) with Candles and Cookies: February 2

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On February 2nd, we celebrate the Presentation of our Lord, traditionally called Candlemas, which   commemorates the presentation of Christ in the temple and the ritual purification of the Virgin Mary. It falls exactly 40 days after Christmas.

On Candlemas candles are traditionally blessed. I didn't really know why candles were blessed until I saw this explanation on Jessica's blog at Catholic Cuisine: Candles are blessed on this day to help us remember the words of holy Simeon who called the babe in his arms, "A light to lighten the gentiles and the glory of your people, Israel."

This year we celebrated this feast day similar to last year, except this year we were able to attend the daily morning Mass and have some of our candles from our home blessed in our church's chapel. Then everyone processed into the main church with candles that were lit in the chapel.

Daily Mass attendees placed their candles onto the table so that our priest could bless them with holy water.  Then we everyone went into the church with a lit candle.

When we got home from Mass I set up our kitchen table with our blessed candles and opened the book Mary, the Mother of Jesus to the page about the Presentation of our Lord.

We also made our cookie candles with cookie drip plates like we did last year for this feast day.

On our table I also displayed the Joyful Mysteries and talked about how the 4th Joyful Mystery is the Presentation of Jesus in the temple.  The middle candle is the candle that was given to us at our wedding.  One of our relatives attached our wedding invitation to a candle and put a bead border around it.  The other candle in the photo below is my 9 year old daughter's candle she received at her First Holy Communion

Candlemas Cookies with cookie drip cake and lots of "wax" icing!

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3 Simple Ways to Celebrate Saint Brigid of Ireland's Feast Day: February 1

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February 1st is the feast day of Saint Brigid of Ireland.  There are so many interesting stories about her life! She was born around the year 450 A.D., just a few years before St. Patrick died.  Did you know that St. Patrick baptized St. Brigid and her parents? St. Brigid also once fell asleep during one of St. Patrick's sermons.  He found it humorous and forgave her with a smile. :) I recently wrote a post at EpicPew titled Here's 31 Things You Probably Didn't Know About St. Brigid of Ireland. Go check it out to find out a little bit more about one of Ireland's most beloved saints!

On her feast day we celebrated St. Brigid 3 simple ways that included reading the book, Brigid's Cloak, making a St. Brigid cross craft with colorful chenille sticks and making and eating homemade Irish soda bread that was delicious!

I got the easy and yummy homemade Irish soda bread recipe from Chris' blog at Campfires and Cleats.  This was the first time I made it and it was quick and came out so good!  Even my normally finicky eaters enjoyed the bread!

After eating some of the Irish soda bread warm with melted butter, we spent part of our daily Couch Catechism prayer time reading a little about her life from Saints for Young Readers for Every Day, Vol. 1 (My FAVORITE Saint books!!  There's also a Vol. 2 for July-December)

  We also read Brigid's Cloak which is a lovely story. 

A summary about this book from Amazon... Brigid's Cloak retells an ancient tale about one of Ireland's most beloved saints. On the day she is born Brigid receives a brilliant blue cloak from a mysterious Druid. Years later, the young girl still wears the now tattered but beloved cloak while she tends her sheep. Is it her imagination that suddenly takes her to an unfamiliar land? Or is it something far greater that leads Brigid to a crowded inn in a town called Bethlehem?

We then made St. Brigid's crosses with chenille sticks.  The story of her cross originated when St. Brigid was teaching a dying pagan chieftain about Christianity.  While her head was bowed she picked up the rushes (a common floor material in Irish homes) off the ground and began braiding them into a cross.  The chieftain asked Brigid about the cross and its meaning. He converted to Christianity and was baptized before his death.

The pattern for the cross is easy to follow.  We used the directions on Lacy's blog at Catholic Icing to make ours.

You were a woman of peace.
You brought harmony where there was conflict.
You brought light to the darkness.
You brought hope to the downcast.

May the mantle of your peace cover those who are troubled and anxious,
and may peace be firmly rooted in our hearts and in our world.
Inspire us to act justly and to reverence all God has made.

Brigid you were a voice for the wounded and the weary.
Strengthen what is weak within us.
Calm us into a quietness that heals and listens.
May we grow each day into greater wholeness in mind, body and spirit.


For more ideas on how our family has celebrated various feast days be sure to visit my A Slice of Liturgical Life page that I have compiled for ease of reference for others and myself! I hope readers will be inspired by some our family's liturgical celebrations that we have enjoyed doing in the past!

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Pro-Life Prints: Lessons 2 (I Am Unique), 3 (Helping Others), 4 (Praying for Others)

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We continued with our Pro-Life Prints activity booklet from Culture of Life Studies Program.  Yesterday my two youngest daughters completed Lesson 1: Preborn Babies.  Today we were really ambitious and finished Lessons 2, 3, and 4 mostly because of our family's busy Friday and weekend schedule.
Also, I wanted to have my posts published at the same time as the 44th annual March for Life on Friday, January 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. I won't be attending the March for Life this year, unfortunately, but I was blessed to attend in 2011, 2012 and 2015.  The marches that I have attended are also linked at the end of this post.

This afternoon my 2 youngest daughters and I got back to work again on their Pro-Life Prints.  Besides destroying my favorite laminator while laminating some of their prints that were still wet when I was in a hurry, it was a blessed day! (Uggghhh, I'm going to have to replace my laminator. :(  I was thinking about getting this one.)

Lesson 2: I Am Unique: "I praise you, because I am wonderfully made: wonderful are your works! My very self you know." -Psalm 139:14 (Psalm 139 is my favorite Psalm!)

In Lesson 2 we talked about how incredibly special each of us are and how there is no one else like you. How each of us have our own handprints and fingerprints, even identical twins have their own uniqueness!  So in this lesson my daughters painted a set of handprints, poppy flowers using their thumbs and bird prints because we discussed that if God takes care of the birds needs, surely he will never forsake us and He will take care of us.

Lesson 3: Helping Others: "Yet Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay and You our Potter: we are all the work of Your hand." -Isaiah 64:7

We talked about ways we can help our family and friends and they made a hand print of an elephant because in the book Horton Hears a Who, Horton understands that "A person's a person no matter how small."  One way to help others is to stand up for those who are smaller than us just as Horton guarded the precious flower that had the Whos in Who-ville living in the tiny speck on the flower.

In Lesson 3, my girls used cut celery to paint roses because roses are beautiful and delicate just like preborn babies!

Lesson 4: Praying for Others: "Yet Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay and You our Potter: we are all the work of Your hand."  -Isaiah 64:7 

Lesson 4 was a reminder that the world is a big place and each person on earth is the work of God's hand.  God loves us immeasurably and the hand prints were reminders of how we are to pray for everyone because all of us need prayers.

Here my daughters are painting their hand with different colors because we learned the five finger prayer as a way to remember who to pray for.

The thumb is closest to us on our bodies so we can pray for those closest to us: our family.

Then the index finger we can pray for teachers and those who instruct us.

The middle finger is the tallest and we can pray for those in authority which includes the president/vice-president, community leaders and even our Pope, Bishops and priests and religious.

The ring finger is the weakest finger so we can remember to pray for the weakest and most delicate in our society (preborn babies, elderly, those who are sick and disabled).

The pinkie finger reminds us to pray for ourselves last since we need prayers too!

Here are all the pages from Lessons 2, 3, and 4 to complete the Pro-Life Prints book.

After I get a new laminator and laminate the pages, I'll bind them together and each of my daughters will have a great keepsake book as a reminder to protect and pray for the culture of life.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I wanted to do this Pro-Life Prints book this week as a way to remember the annual March for Life that is today, Friday, January 27, 2017.  Since I won't be attending the March physically I will be there in spirit and prayers.

Here are the posts I wrote of the 3 March for Life marches I was able to attend so far...

I started a Pinterest Pro-Life board called "L.I.F.E. = Life Is For Everyone" awhile ago, where I have been collecting pro-life posts.  If you are interested in following the board go HERE and click on articles that interest you! 

 Have a blessed weekend!



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I'm Tracy. I love my faith, family and on most days, homeschooling my 5 blessings. When I'm not busy baking cakes for my family or making memories in real life or dreaming I had a housekeeper or professional chef, I enjoy documenting a slice of Smith life in blog land.

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