Monday, March 30, 2015

Guest Post: My Chocolate Green Smoothie Recipe

As we begin Holy Week, I wanted to pop in quickly here on my blog just to let you know that my Chocolate Green Smoothie recipe that I drink almost every morning was featured at Jenna's blog,  Call Her Happy, today.  Click HERE to read more!  Thanks Jenna for allowing me to be a guest post on your beautiful blog! 

May you have a blessed Holy Week!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Our Family's Plans for Holy Week 2015 in 7 (Not Really) Quick Takes

This post contains affiliate links.

We will be taking our spring break next week from our regular homeschool schedule and it is a very Holy Week as we get closer to commemorate our Lord's passion, death, and resurrection!  I will be taking a bit of a blog break too to focus on Holy Week with my family and the celebration of Easter, but you can check out all our Holy Week happenings next week on my blog's Facebook page.

This weekend before Holy Week will be a busy one, as always!

Friday evening, March 27, our family will be attending our parish's Friday evening soup supper and stations of the cross. The weeks during Lent that our family hasn't been able to attend our parish Stations of the Cross, we say them at home as a family and use a children's version for the Stations and our magnetic Stations of the Cross.

On Saturday, March 28, I will be attending my first blogging conference about 4 hours from my home with many other NC and SC bloggers!  I'm looking forward to networking, meeting new friends and talking about blogging!

Sunday, March 29, our homeschool group will be making meals and serving the homeless in our downtown area.  Our group has done this for several years now about 3-4 times a year whenever there is a 5th Sunday in the month.  It is always a blessed time for all and this year it's a great way to spend Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week serving our brothers and sisters in Christ.

In 2013, I posted information and videos about Palm Sunday, which is on Sunday, March 29 this year, and about the 3 holiest days in the Church year, called the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday).  I also reflected on why Holy Week and Easter is such a special time for our family

After we get our palms at the Palm Sunday Mass we traditionally try to make a cross with them.  However, I might try one of these creative braids as posted by Jennifer at Catholic Inspired or one of  these creative ideas as posted by Lacy at Catholic Icing.

Here are our plans for this Holy Week 2015...(IF all goes as planned) :)


holy week in handprints book for kids
I plan on doing this Holy Week in Handprints project from Catholic Icing with my children. We will probably make one booklet for our family unless some of my children want to make their own booklets.

Monday of Holy Week: We will read Walter the Baker and make homemade pretzels like we have done in the past

Tuesday of Holy Week:  Last year my children made these colorful and beautiful watercolor crucifixes and I plan on having my children make another set.  This weekend we will burn some palms and plant real Easter grass that will hopefully arrive by Easter Sunday, but definitely the grass grows sometime during the Easter season! 


Wednesday of Holy Week: Also known as "Spy Wednesday" because it's the day Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.  We will find our silver pieces again and then take another trip to the "Via Cruces".  A couple who attends our church has a beautiful garden at their home where you can pray the Stations of the Cross as you walk around the long path filled with statues, stations of the cross, benches, plaques, crucifixes and there's even an empty tomb with a stone rolled away at the end of the path.  Just beautiful! 

Thursday of Holy Week: During the day, we may be continuing any Holy Week projects like the "Holy Week in Handprints". We will attend Holy Thursday Mass when we remember the institution of the Eucharist and priesthood and the washing of the apostles' feet.   I also hope to show my children this beautiful video.

Good Friday: Last year we ate this symbolic lunch for Good Friday and it was a wonderful way to remember this"good" Friday.  Then we will attend Good Friday service, the only day of the entire year where Mass is not celebrated anywhere in the world! More on that HERE.  In year's past we have seen a re-creation of the passion and death of our Lord acted out by our local Hispanic community after the Good Friday service. My kids talk about this alot and it makes quite an impression on young and old minds.

'Lord, by thy Cross and Resurrection thou hast redeemed the world'
On Holy Saturday, I would love to go to the Easter Vigil one year with my family, but for now we spend Holy Saturday at home doing our Easter weekend family traditions that we have done for several years in the past.   We dye eggs, change our salt dough crown of thorns into a beautiful crown with jewels, make our resurrection rolls and our resurrection cookies and change our sacrifice beans to jelly beans for Easter morning.  
Easter Sunday! This year we hid our "Alleluia" pictures so those will come out on Easter morning in the kid's baskets!   More about our 2015 Easter in a future post....

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly's blog at This Ain't the Lyceum

I linked this post to 40 Days of Seeking Him hosted by Day by Day in Our World and A House Upon The Rock

40 Days of Seeking Him Lent

May you have a blessed Holy Week 2015!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

March 25: Feast of the Annunciation: EASY Coloring Pages and Craft, Waffles and a Video too!

Tomorrow, March 25, is the feast of the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she is to carry and give birth to God's son and name Him Jesus.  All this through the power of the Holy Spirit!  (Luke 1: 26-38)

Nine months from today, we will be celebrating the birth of our Savior!  Today's feast day is one of the Solemnities on our liturgical Church calendar so it's a big deal and another time to celebrate and feast!

In 2010, when my oldest daughter was 10, she painted this in her homeschool art class.  We have it displayed on our piano in our dining room.  The teacher asked the students to sketch and paint a scene from the Bible and my daughter decided to paint the Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel came to visit Mary to tell her she was chosen to become the mother of God's Son.  Here is the scripture verse that my daughter wrote on the top right corner of her painting:

"Behold, the Virgin shall be with Child, and shall bear a son."
Matthew 1:23

In year's past we have done several different activities to remember this special day.  These activities are easy enough to prepare last minute!

In 2011, I printed out this coloring page from Lacy's blog at Catholic Icing and my children enjoyed coloring it.

Last year in 2014, my children did this coloring activity that was designed by Jennifer at Catholic Inspired.

This year, I thought of a way to "announce" the Annunciation with my children that is easy and I hope fun and memorable for all.  I taped one of these Annunciation images on a styrofoam cup and printed out the words..."The Angel of the Lord announced unto Mary..." and taped the strips of paper to the cup.
The words are the first part of the Angelus prayer that is a devotion prayed at 6:00 AM, noon, and 6:00 PM.  We usually say the noon time Angelus prayer before our lunch time grace (when I don't forget).

So I thought for the feast of the Annunciation we would use our megaphones to loudly (and reverently) say the Angelus prayer at lunch time tomorrow.  Our cups look a little plain so maybe my children will want to use markers to decorate them?  I'll find out tomorrow when they wake up.

When we think of the word "annunciation" we think of the word "announce" which is what this feast day is all about...the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she conceived Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is my hope that my children will remember March 25 a little better with this simple and fun activity and that as they announce the Angelus prayer they will remember what the Feast of the Annunciation is all about. 

So grab some cups and make a megaphone and say the Angelus a little differently tomorrow to remember such a special day!

Photo Credit: Slice of Earthly Delight

And I hear that tomorrow is Waffle Day in Sweden and we are having (frozen) waffles for dinner and bacon and fruit because it is the Feast of the Annunciation and Kendra at Catholic All Year makes a compelling case of why eating waffles on the Feast of the Annunciation is a rather fun and cool idea.
BUT what does waffles have to do with the Feast of the Annunciation you ask?  Read all about that HERE.  Interesting information, don't ya think? 

And I'll conclude this post all about the Annunciation with this beautiful song and images about the Angel Gabriel visiting Mary.

 May you have a blessed Feast of the Annunciation!

Monday, March 23, 2015

St. Joseph Altar and Feast Day Celebration: 2015

This post contains affiliate links.

This past Sunday, March 22, our homeschool group had our annual St. Joseph feast day celebration that we have been having for about 10 years now.  Each year we gather and fellowship with family and old and new friends to celebrate wonderful St. Joseph, the husband of our Blessed Mother and foster-father of Jesus.

St. Joseph's feast day is March 19, but our homeschool group celebrates it whichever Sunday is closest to March 19 so the fathers can gather for the celebration as well!  This year was filled with a few raindrops, a beautiful St. Joseph altar, and many memories.

For a history of St. Joseph's feast day and St. Joseph altars, be sure to read my post HERE that tells all about it, including black and white photos of when my Dad was a little boy and how he celebrated St. Joseph's feast day with very elaborate and decorative altars. 

Here's this year's altar with 3 levels in the background to represent the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).  The altar is decorated with the decorative breads that our homeschool group made a few weeks prior to our celebration and other delicious food.  Each year the host family (Thank you H. family for hosting such a wonderful time each year!) sets up the altar on their back screened-in porch.  There was also lots more food for the feast inside their home. 

The black and white photo above of Mary with the Child Jesus was given as a gift for my friend from her mother when she traveled to Rome.  It is a beautiful print with the holy card of St. Joseph and Jesus beside it.  This print made the St. Joseph altar extra special.   The monstrance in the lower right corner came out so beautiful.

Thanks A.J. for the beautiful, colorful, and delicious cupcakes!  They were a hit and added so much to the altar.

The carpenter's square belonged to our friend's grandfather and it always makes the perfect decoration in front of the St. Joseph statue.   Another friend made the chocolate birds' nests that were adorable and I hope to make them for this Easter!  The colorful fig cookies are a traditional Italian cookie that are a labor of love made by J.H. and family and they are called cuccidatas.

I made these very easy and delicious Cappuccino Cupcakes.  I found the recipe in the Country Italian cookbook.  If you would like the recipe, contact me and I will be glad to share it. It's basically just brownie mix and coffee mixed with a few other ingredients. Cool Whip with cinnamon on top. Mmmmm...  Chocolate and coffee...a winning combination!  They were a hit! 

The homeschool family that hosts the St. Joseph celebration told a little bit of history of St. Joseph's Feast Day by displaying this map to show where Sicily is located.  Our friend's great grandparents (their wedding photo is in the above picture) were from Sicily and when they moved to Louisiana they started the St. Joseph altar tradition in the state of Louisiana.

 Here is J.H. talking about the history of the St. Joseph altars.  In the background you can see posters filled with a collage of pictures that my Dad had made from several past St. Joseph feast day celebrations.  Thank you Dad! 

Here is my father on the far left (and the "official" photographer) and HERE is my Dad as a little boy standing in front of his family's very elaborate St. Joseph's altar.
My Dad is holding the Litany of St. Joseph which is a beautiful prayer that we say as a group each year.  A litany is a list of names that refer to a particular Saint.

J.H. filled the tiny white cloth bags for each family to take home with them: Each bag was filled St. Joseph holy card, St. Joseph medal, and a fava bean because during the famine in Sicily, families lived off of these types of beans until the famine ended.  Attached to each bag is a ziplock bag filled with samples of the traditional Italian cookies she made with her family.

Here are some of the kids and teens and everyone was able to hang out outside for most of the afternoon even in the drizzling rain that was off and on.  Good St. Joseph looked out for us and must have sent a special request to God to keep the predicted rainfall to a minimum. :) 

Here is this year's family and friends. Our kids are scattered throughout the group with my husband and me on the far right corner squatting down with our 19 mo. old dressed in red.  :)

May the Passiontide, these last 2 weeks of Lent, be a blessed time for you and your family and friends!   Wait..... after doing some research about Passiontide I just learned some new things about this time period in Lent through Nicole's blog post Celebrating Passion Sunday and from this site that she refers to in her post. Passiontide is one OR two weeks prior to Easter depending on which liturgical calendar you look at and follow.  Hmmm...that's interesting!

I just love our Catholic faith because it's like a bottomless treasure chest with gems and rich traditions that always has something new to learn and love!

St. Joseph, pray for us!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

St. Joseph's Feast Day and St. Joseph Altars

This post contains afflilate links. 

Tomorrow, March 19th, is the feast of St. Joseph!   We were listening to the Glory Stories CD about St. Joseph in the car today and one of my children asked me why is St. Joseph referred to as the "foster-father" of Jesus.  I told her that Mary conceived Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit (a mystery that takes faith to believe) and foster-father means that God chose Joseph to take care of Jesus while on earth.  That answer seemed to satisfy her for now... The Glory Story CD is a great one and it also has the story of St. Katharine Drexel!  It's on sale now too!  

St. Joseph is celebrated each year on March 19th and it's a "solemnity"!  What's a solemnity?  It's definitely not solemn as Kendra at Catholic All Year explains.   I really like this free printable Kendra created that lists all the solemnities celebrated during the liturgical year.  She has some great free printables about St. Joseph too!

For the past 10 plus years our homeschool group has celebrated the feast of St. Joseph. It's the highlight of the year for our group and it's one of the few times all our families, (including the Dads!) can gather together to celebrate such a wonderful Saint!

We usually have our St. Joseph celebration on the Sunday closest to St. Joseph's actual feast day so the Dads can join in. This year's party will be this Sunday, March 22, in the afternoon.  Sometimes we have a local priest celebrate with us and he leads the Litany of St. Joseph and sometimes we don't, but we always say the Litany as a group, with or without a priest present.

The same family hosts the gathering each year (Thanks DH and JH!). It's traditional to have a St. Joseph altar with 3 levels to represent the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The breads that our homeschool group made a few weeks ago prior to the celebration will help decorate the St. Joseph altar. 

In 2011, I blogged about one of our group's St. Joseph celebrations and included lots of history about the altar and I have black and white photos like this one of when my Dad was a little boy celebrating St. Joseph's feast day with an elaborately decorated altar.   Our altar each year is not quite as decorative, but it's still beautiful. 

If our homeschool group didn't celebrate St. Joseph's feast day all together, I'm not sure how our family would celebrate this special day, but there are many, many different ways to honor such a great Saint! 

SaintNook, where the Saints are always online, has a great St. Joseph of Bethlehem Directory filled with ideas and links!   The SaintNook team (I'm grateful to be a part of this team) is constantly adding new links and improving the site to make this a "one stop Saint spot!"  We hope SaintNook will be a blessing to all those who visit it and we encourage visitors to share the Saints' links on social media because the Saints are stepping into social media in a new and exciting way!

May you have a blessed feast of St. Joseph!  St. Joseph, pray for us! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Celebrating Husband's Birthday and Saint Patrick of Ireland with Recipe and SaintNook!

Yesterday was my husband's birthday and it was great to celebrate his life and love on his special day!  While I was driving home last night from picking up one of my daughters from her church choir practice I saw this beautiful "painting" in the sky on our street.   I call it "Sunset at Home" By: God
Stunning isn't?

After soccer practices and our daughters' choir practice we had some of my homemade chocolate cake with the yummy homemade cream cheese icing that I make often!  Here's some pictures of our family celebration minus our 19 mo. old who was already in bed.   In the right side picture is a framed picture of our children that I took while my husband was out of town last week and I had my children decorate the mat of the frame.  My husband will be putting this in his office at work. 

I must show you this darling photo of my husband and his twin brother in honor of their birthday today.   My husband is on the right sportin' the big black bow tie and curly hair.  Aren't they the cutest?  They bring our family and friends so much joy and laughter! 

Around my husband's cake are some of the shamrock treats we made for St. Patrick's Day. These are made the same way as the pretzel treats I make each year at Christmas.  Here's a close up of the sweet treats.

Here's how you can make them:
Lay out mini twist pretzels on a lined cookie sheet. Unwrap Hershey kiss, place on pretzel. Put in 350 preheated oven for 2 min. then push 3 green M and M's onto soft Hershey kiss. Add green decorating icing for stem.  I had to buy a bag of the Easter M&M's and pick out the green ones for the green shamrocks.  I was able to make about 16 shamrocks with what was in my bag.  Easy, fun, and yummy!  I bet you can't eat just one! :) 

I shared this recipe at Lisa's Try a New Recipe Tuesday Link-Up @ Home to 4 Kiddos


Today is Saint Patrick's Day!  I thought I would share about this wonderful and popular Saint via SaintNook, where the Saints are always online! 

To find out more about St. Patrick of Ireland, you can read his profile and biography

Be sure to view his Directory filled with links, crafts, recipes, books, DVDs! 

SaintNook also has a great selection of videos, trailers, prayers and music on St Patrick of Ireland.

St. Patrick of Ireland has his own Pinterest board!  Check out his many beautiful images/statues!

The SaintNook team spends many hours with the Saints online updating their profiles and the site is a work in progress so be sure to check back in often either at the website or the SaintNook Facebook page!  

From St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer: 
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

May you have a blessed Saint Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

My Blog Feature at Catholic Sistas!

It's been an especially long and busy week this week since my husband has been out of town for work related meetings. 

Need I say more???  :)

I'm really not complaining because there are soooo many families who have spouses that travel ALOT, so my heart goes out to all the single parents out there!  

We are all looking forward to the man of the house coming home Friday evening and I can't wait for our 19 month old daughter to cling to her Daddy and never let him out of her sight :)

This week I have been working on entering resources for Saint Patrick and Saint Joseph into the SaintNook site where me and 3 other SaintNook team members work hard to bring the Saints always online! These two great Saints have their feast days coming up next week and we can't wait to share them with you through SaintNook!

 Saint Patrick

So with my hectic week and SaintNook work, I thought I would stop in and just post about my blog feature at Catholic Sistas blog!

My blog was featured on Catholic Sistas blog this week!  I enjoyed answering the questions for the feature!  Head on over to HERE to read more about my blogging journey and find out a little more about me and my little corner of blog land :) 

This weekend our family will be going to the soup supper and Stations of the Cross at our parish on Friday evening and then on Saturday, March 14, our 7 year old daughter will receive her First Reconciliation!  It will be a blessed weekend! 

May your weekend be blessed!


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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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