Roasted Butternut Squash, Arugula, and Goat Cheese Salad
New England Clam Chowder
Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger and Lime
Golden Stew of Pumpkin, Cabbage, Turmeric and Riso
Chicken Barley Soup
Cider Braised Pork Shoulder with Caramelized Onions
Mustard Maple Ham Steaks with Cider-Madeira Sauce
Crock Pot Beef Stew
Curried Beef Stuffed Acorn Squash
Savory Meat Pie
Gingered Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Winter Vegetables
Sweet Potato Souffle
Green Beans with Shallots and Peppers
Wild Rice with Fruits and Nuts
Spicy Sweet Potato Muffins
Mile High Strawberry Dessert
Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Taffy Apple Salad
Pumpkin Spice Cake
Our autumn feast came together beautifully, the variety of colors and flavors complementing each other perfectly. Links to the delicious recipes above can be found at The Virtual Kitchen, but I couldn't resist seeing the harvest menu all together. Thank you, everyone, for your generous contributions!
Don't forget to submit your favorite autumn fare for the Fall Feast to be celebrated at The Virtual Kitchen tomorrow. From the recipes received so far, I can assure you this will be a harvest feast you won't want to miss! Thanks to everyone for your submissions!
It's beautiful. It's magical. It turns your crazy, wild children into gentle, sprightly fairies and your chaotic home into a garden of imagination and wonder. And if you're a woman and a mother, it turns you into a girl again.
Yesterday morning we all got up extra early to make a small pilgrimage to Mission San Juan Capistrano. We planned to pray in front of the St. Peregrine statue there for our friends whose daughter's cancer resurfaced this week after a year of remission. Upon arrival we discovered the Mission chapel was closed, so we visited the statue next door at the Mission Basilica.
This pilgrimage was my husband's idea. As I stood back and watched him hold his girls while explaining Saint Peregrine's wounds to their little ears, and then kneel down in prayer for our dear friends, I witnessed once again the heart of the good man I married. Thank you, Patrick, for guiding your family. I love you.
You can read more about St. Peregrine Laziosi here. He is most commonly known as the Patron of cancer patients.
I don't mean to overload you with posts on our local wildfires, but I was out with the girls on Tuesday and caught these pictures of our local Orange County fire. We had blue skies that day, but today we're covered in smoke and ash again. The hazy sky turns everything around us orange - white mailboxes, houses, driveways, people - all appear a bright, pumpkiny hue. Our daylight resembles a perpetual sunset.
Notice how close the fire is to these homes.
The sky above our house, at 11:00 a.m.
On a side note, the Norbertine fathers and fraters at St. Michael's Abbey, where we attend mass, were evacuated. The Abbey resides in the canyon area in very close proximity to the fire.
That's right, folks. The Virtual Kitchen will be hosting a Fall Feast next Tuesday, October 30....just in time for your Halloween or All Saints gatherings.
For this Feast we're hoping you'll share your very best Autumn recipes....those warm, cozy, delicious foods you look forward to making every year. Your contribution can be sweet or savory, a main course, a side dish, a dessert, a snack....it's entirely up to you.
Submit your favorite recipes or links to your blog post in the comments below or via e-mail by next Monday night, October 29. Then be sure to stop by The Virtual Kitchen for our Fall Feast on Tuesday. And by all means, spread the word. The more food, the greater the feast!
San Diego is still under great threat from the wildfires. As of 7:30 this morning it is reported that the burned acreage in San Diego County may be approaching 300,000 acres with an estimated 1,000 homes lost.
The Orange County fire has consumed almost 16,000 acres. 870 homes are in immediate danger and mandatory evacuations are in place. I'm looking at blue skies outside my window for the first time in two days, but my husband's office, eight miles away, is surrounded by thick black smoke.
The fires throughout all of SoCal have claimed one life, reported from Sunday night. Please pray his soul was prepared - I haven't been able to stop thinking about him. Also pray for the some 300 nursing home evacuees in need of special care.
Yesterday morning I was out to lunch with some girlfriends and our children. The kids were having a blast running around a beautiful fountain surrounded by a courtyard of roses, while the ladies were catching up and reminiscing about old times. The scene was perfectly picturesque, until I saw the jaw-drop of a woman nearby as she exclaimed "Nooo!", looking behind me. I turned around to discover Gianna completely drenched, head to toe in water, every inch of her soaked after having fallen into the fountain.
She wasn't hurt, physically, but her tears reflected the emotional trauma of a humiliated four year old girl. I believe it was the first time I've ever seen her embarrassed. She kept repeating, "I'm sorry, Mama" and I kept insisting there was nothing to be sorry about. I just wanted to hold her.
Nearby was an Assistance League, where we picked up a sundress for Gianna for less than two dollars. She was quickly herself again, laughing and playing with her friends. Later, when I asked her to recount the event for her Daddy, she replied, "I didn't like that part of the day much."
I only wish I had my camera. The drenched scene was such good blogging material. Perhaps for the sake of a little girl's sensitivity, I wasn't meant to get a photo. You'll just have to use your imagination. :)
I'm not sure why, but my post yesterday in honor of my parents is linked at the bottom of this excerpt on WSJ Online. How neat is that? :)
(I must say I am very pleased. If ever I should desire a post of mine to be linked to such a publication, I would want my words to honor my wonderful mother and father, who never desire any recognition for themselves.)
Last week my friend Jen over at Et-tu? invited us to enter her first (of many, hopefully) Group Writing Project. The subject?: What are three things your parents did right? When I read her invitation I knew I would post on the topic, not for the prize (which I already own, thanks to Jen's recommendation), but to say a few words about my incredibly wonderful parents. The only difficulty I had writing this post was in limiting their gifts to only three.
Family Prayer: I remember when we began praying the daily rosary together as a family. I was about nine or ten years old, and the climate of our home changed significantly. My father would wake us at six o'clock in the morning. My four pajama-clad brothers and I would crawl out of bed wrapped in warm blankets and meet in the living room, rosaries clutched in hand. The two children to make it upstairs first had seating rights next to the central-air vents in the living room - the warmest spots in the house. We were comfortable, cozy, and together. I learned from an early age that the rosary was essential to the good of family life. It was the first thing we did every day, and Our Lady surely protected us in return. My mother still today recalls when we prayed the rosary together, every other aspect of family life went well.
Education: From my very youngest school years, education was a priority for my parents. I attended a Montessori school (of which my father was on the Board) in the early years, was later homeschooled by my mother, and graduated from high school at Trivium School, a truly excellent Catholic boarding school in New England. (It was there I had my first taste of Latin, St. Thomas and St. Augustine, Aristotle and Plato, and the love of learning for the sake of learning.)
Interspersed throughout this time I attended public schools, in part for financial reasons, in part because the local private schools were less than exemplary (many were worse than the local public educators). In fourth grade my mother pulled me and two of my brothers out of public school and began homeschooling us. It was during these years we attended daily Mass, developed a love for the saints, and for me, Mary. I had dreams about meeting Her in heaven, and would pray every night that She would appear to me in real life, as She did the children at Fatima. My mother educated us during the earlier years of homeschooling, a time in which teaching one's children at home was almost unheard of. I remember the criticisms she would bear from those around her - everything from attacks against her lack of a degree in Education to our lack of proper socialization to the frequently spoken assertion, "You can't teach your children at home. It's illegal." How times have changed. But I vividly remember the impression my mother's courage made upon me. To me she was the greatest mom in the world for loving us enough to choose a very narrow path for our good.
True Charity: My mother and father loved everyone, and gave to everyone. Our open-door home welcomed many - family, friends, acquaintances and even the homeless. It never mattered how long anyone stayed with us, and my parents never expected anything in return. We hosted guests for days, weeks, months at a time. They ate meals with us at our dining table, were given automobiles to use as needed, and money for other necessities. Whatever anyone wanted he could have. I can think of a few guests my mother was not entirely fond of, but they never knew it. She gave, sacrificed, and showed kindness because she Loved, not because she liked someone.
I grew up watching my father give himself to everyone, the way my mother gave herself to her children. He is optimistic and good-natured, and people enjoy being around him. He was President of Alaska Right-to-Life, Head of Operation Rescue and on the Board of the American Diabetes Association. It was always clear that my dad had leadership qualities, but he chose to use those gifts for causes that were good, true and beautiful. And I knew it. As an adult and a mother looking back, I realize now how keenly aware children are of what their parents do. I knew the difference between adults who sought material success and those who sought the Good. I always considered my father an incredible role model in this regard. And my dad still gives himself and all of his blessings to everyone around him.
Mom and Dad, I love you. I know I am not aware of all you sacrificed for your five children, but I am quite certain that much of what is truly good in me is from your beautiful and attentive parenting, and ultimately through God's grace in each of us.
More than a month ago I promised more pictures from the lovely Huntington Gardens in Pasadena. I believe I took these a few days after I made that promise, and am just now getting around to posting them.
These photographs depict a tour through the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden and a few more from the Botanical Conservatory. Do enjoy, and when you travel this way for a visit, I'd love to bring you to the Gardens!
......we have a winner!! With a one year-old daughter named Gianna, particular family devotions to both the Holy Family and the Archangels, I wonder if this girl is a long lost sister. Congratulations, Celeste! I do hope you'll send pictures of your lovely daughter in her dress when she is able to wear it.
So, there you have it. Gianna will be a yellow-and-white Little Bo Peep for Halloween. I figure there's so little time our young ones can get away with dressing as nursery rhyme characters. And soon enough I'm sure we'll solely be celebrating the feast of All Saints, and the Halloween stuff will fall to the wayside. But for now, while the girls can still be ladybugs and pea pods and bunnies, we're having fun!
As for your guesses, I was relieved that you all picked such sweet costumes and no one guessed a monster or a witch or something even worse! You know me too well, my virtual friends! My favorite guess? Laura's eight-year-old son with "a dead, rotting, stinkin' fish"! It had me laughing in tears and imagining what I would use for the foul odor - cod liver oil? Too funny!
I had a wonderful birthday, spending it with those I love most - my family. You know, life here is so, so short - at four, thirty-four or eighty-four - it passes much too quickly. Thank you, everyone, for your kind birthday wishes. Each and every one of them is much appreciated.