Meal plan for the next two weeks Saturday, Feb 28 2009 

Breakfast menu is the same every week and we have left overs for lunch. We usually have grilled cheese sandwhiches for lunch on Fridays. This menu goes along with the Costco shopping list.

Monday- Bacon, eggs and toast
Tesday- sausage patties and pancakes
Wednesday- oatmeal and toast
Thursday- biscuits and sausage gravy
Friday- cereal before Mass and cream of wheat after Mass
Saturday- hash browns and eggs
Sunday- hash browns, eggs and bacon

Monday- meatloaf and rice
Tuesday- spaghetti and homemade meatballs
Wednesday- meatless bean enchilada soup
Thursday- chicken and pasta with sundried tomatoes
Friday- Greek pasta with tomatoes and white beans
Saturday- Spinach and Feta Pasta
Sunday- Shepherd's pie

Monday- beef stew
Tuesday- Chicken Milano
Wednesday- seven layer tortilla pie
Thursday- chicken pot pie
Friday- black bean burritos
Saturday- potato soup
Sunday- Corned beef and rice

Mater Dolorosa rosary Saturday, Feb 28 2009 

This blue gemstone rosary consists of three Aves, followed by one Pater, a centerpiece; then 7 sets of 7 Aves. The Ave beads and Pater beads are 8mm blue gemstones. The spacer beads are 4mm Czech crystal sharp faceted beads reminiscent of the crown of thorns, which is how I came up with the name of this rosary. The crucifix is 1 3/4" long and the medal is 3/4" long. $33.00. Only one available.

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Lenten Rosary giveaway # 2 Friday, Feb 27 2009 

I wish I had enough purple rosaries to give away to everyone who entered the last giveaway, but I only have enough supplies for two more, so I will have another drawing on Tuesday, March 3rd, the feast of St. Katharine Drexel and will be picking two names this time. For those of you who entered the last two raffles but did not win, I will automatically add your name to this raffle. I'm also going to raffle off a red rosary for Passion Sunday and another one for Pentecost Sunday. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and may Our Blessed Mother continue to bless your families during this holy season of Lent. Please say an Ave for our family 🙂

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Lenten Rosary giveaway # 2 Friday, Feb 27 2009 

I wish I had enough purple rosaries to give away to everyone who entered the last giveaway, but I only have enough supplies for two more, so I will have another drawing on Tuesday, March 3rd, the feast of St. Katharine Drexel and will be picking two names this time. For those of you who entered the last two raffles but did not win, I will automatically add your name to this raffle. I'm also going to raffle off a red rosary for Passion Sunday and another one for Pentecost Sunday. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and may Our Blessed Mother continue to bless your families during this holy season of Lent. Please say an Ave for our family 🙂

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Small Successes 6 Thursday, Feb 26 2009 

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  1. I took the food out of the pantry and vacuumed the floor and reorganized it, which will give me a better idea of what needs to be restocked for my next trip to Costco 🙂
  2. I made copies of our Alleluia sign for the 4 middle kids to hide. They will make a scavenger hunt for Easter Sunday for each other to guess where the signs were hidden.
  3. The kids and I made the most delicious homemade pretzels last night. We are going to make more today because I failed to double the recipe.

Do you have some small successes you'd like to share this week? Post them at Faith and Family Live

Stella Maris Rosary Thursday, Feb 26 2009 

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Here is my latest rosary designed by our 19 year old Adrianna. The Hail Mary and Our Father beads are 8mm. mix if gemstone beads. Crucifix is 1 1/4" long and medal is 3/4" long. Only one availabe. $33.00

Our favorite meatless recipes for Lent Wednesday, Feb 25 2009 

Here are some of our favorite meatless recipes for Lent. Not everyone on my family likes every recipe, but with 7 kids, you can't please all of them every day, so they are free to have something else for dinner.

Orzo with Parmesan and Basil

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Melt butter in heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in orzo and saute until lightly browned.
Stir in cream and bring to boil. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer until orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15 – 20 minutes.
Mix in Parmesan cheese and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to shallow bowl. Garnish with basil sprigs.

Macaroni and Cheese

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (16 ounce) package elbow macaroni
9 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain well and return to cooking pot.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 8 tablespoons butter; stir into the macaroni.
In a large bowl, combine the Mozzarella cheese, mild and sharp Cheddar cheeses, and Monterey Jack cheese; mix well.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Add the half and half and 1 1/2 cups of cheese mixture to macaroni; mix together and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a lightly greased deep 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese mixture and 1 tablespoon of butter.
Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes or until hot and bubbling around the edges; serve.

Minestrone Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 cups chopped celery
5 carrots, sliced
2 cups water
115 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup canned kidney beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can green beans
2 zucchinis, quartered and sliced
2 squash, quartered and sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup seashell pasta
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for topping
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large stock pot, over medium-low heat, heat olive oil and saute garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion and saute for 4 to 5 minutes. Add celery and carrots, saute for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add water and tomatoes, bring to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and add kidney beans, green beans, zucchini, squash, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, the longer the better.
Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until tender. Drain water and set aside.
Once pasta is cooked and soup is heated through place 2 tablespoons cooked pasta into individual serving bowls. Ladle soup on top of pasta and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Spray with olive oil and serve.

Greek Pasta with Tomatoes and White Beans

2 (14.5 ounce) cans Italian-style diced tomatoes
1 (19 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
10 ounces fresh spinach, washed and chopped
8 ounces penne pasta
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.
Meanwhile, combine tomatoes and beans in a large non-stick skillet. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.
Add spinach to the sauce; cook for 2 minutes or until spinach wilts, stirring constantly.
Serve sauce over pasta, and sprinkle with feta.

Pesto Pizza

1 (12 inch) pre-baked pizza crust
1/2 cup pesto
1 ripe tomato, chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 (2 ounce) can chopped black olives, drained
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 (4 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and sliced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
Spread pesto on pizza crust. Top with tomatoes, bell peppers, olives, red onions, artichoke hearts and feta cheese.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and browned.

Lentil Soup

1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups dry lentils
8 cups water
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery; cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and basil; cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in lentils, and add water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for at least 1 hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Eggplant Parmesan

3 eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
6 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
1 (16 ounce) package mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in bread crumbs. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes on each side.
In a 9×13 inch baking dish spread spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses. Sprinkle basil on top.
Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

Black Bean Burritos

8 (10 inch) flour tortillas
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
4 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno peppers
1 package softened cream cheese
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Wrap tortillas in foil and place in oven heated to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through.
Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Place onion, bell pepper, garlic and jalapenos in skillet, cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally. Pour beans into skillet, cook 3 minutes stirring.
Cut cream cheese into cubes and add to skillet with salt. Cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir cilantro into mixture.
Spoon mixture evenly down center of warmed tortilla and roll tortillas up. Serve immediately.

And the winner is… Tuesday, Feb 24 2009 

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Congratualtions, Robynn! Email me your address and I will ship the rosary out to you next week.

Stay tuned for a beautiful red rosary give-away for Passion Sunday.

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Family activities for Lent- repost Tuesday, Feb 24 2009 

Here are some ways to celebrate Lent with your children:

Say Farewell to the Alleluia

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    Dawn at By Sun and Candlelight has a wonderful post on celebrating Ash Wednesday. One of the crafts she made this year is saying farewell to the Alleluia. I really love her craft. It is so beautiful.

    Here is our attempt at this wonderful tradition. This is a great Lenten activity to make with the children.

    I bought wooden letters and a paperboard box and spray painted them gold. Then the kids glued some glittery flowers on them. This is our Alleluia before we put it away:

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    Here is the box with the Alleluia wrapped in purple tissue paper. We will open the box on Easter morning to reveal the Alleluia, which we will display during the fifty days of Easter.

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    The box will sit on our altar until then.

Shrouding Sacred Statues and Pictures

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  • Count your statues and holy pictures, then cut strips of purple cloth and use as shrouds on Passion Sunday, just as the shrouds are used in church. This reminds us that with the arrival of Passion Sunday, the last most solemn and sorrowful weeks of Lent have begun.
Crown of Thorns
 
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  • This year we are using a wreath from the local craft store. I think it looks more realistic than the salt dough crown.
  • Salt dough recipe. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for about 5-10 minutes until satiny smooth. This prevents cracking and uneven baking. Divide into three equal sections and make three ropes. Braid the three ropes and form into a circle to form the crown of thorns. Place toothpicks around crown .After molding, bake at 300 for 30-40 minutes. Check often. Apply color by using paste food coloring mixed with eggwhites before baking for a golden brown finish.

The Stations of the Cross  

  • I came up with this craft a few years ago and wanted to share it again this year. This 14 Stations of the Cross votive candle holder is very easy to make with your children and also inexpensive. The total cost was about $12.00.
  • I started with a piece of wood about 2 1/2 feet long and hot glued 14 glass votive candles on it.

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    Then I printed these black and white images of the 14 Stations of the Cross. The kids cut them and used a glue stick to paste them on the glass votives.

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    We light all 14 candles. After we read each station, we blow out a candle, and when we get to the last station, the room is dark and somber. It has made meditating on the stations very real to us.

Resurrection Eggs
   
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  • Lead your kids on a fun, faith-filled Easter egg hunt this year–one that will teach them about Jesus' death and resurrection! Each egg carton is filled with a dozen colorful plastic eggs with miniature symbols of the Easter story hidden inside. These items symbolize events in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. You'll find a donkey, three coins, a cup, praying hands, a leather strip, a crown of thorns, nails, a die, a spear, linen/gauze, and a stone, as well as one empty egg, representing the empty tomb.

Lenten Sacrifice Beads:

  • Draw a cross on the poster-board.
    Explain that purple is a color for royalty, for Christ is our risen King. Every time a child does an act of charity, penance, or alms, he/she will receive a bead to place in the jar. Every week in Lent, glue all the week's beads onto the poster, filling in the cross. This shows that we are all helping Jesus to carry His cross. Each bead helps Jesus carry the cross and helps us prepare for Good Friday and Christ's Passion.
    Supplies:
    1 bag purple beads
    1 large poster board
    1 jar to display on altar
Easter Story Cookies
  • To be made the night before Easter. This recipe is to be made with children, to help illustrate the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. Do this on Holy Saturday evening, before the Easter Vigil Mass. These are meringue cookies. The oven will be hot, even though you turn it off for the night, to allow the cookies to rise and become hollow.
Lent reading for children:

There are many resources to help Catholic families celebrate the holy season of Lent. I have been gathering these for many years. Here are some links that have been very helpful to me:

Meatless Recipes:

Lent Activity Books:

Catholic Lent activities for the family:

Devotions for Lent

EWTN Reflection.

Saving money on our groceries with Costco Sunday, Feb 22 2009 

For the past two months I have been working on lowering our grocery bill by cutting out weekly trips to the grocery store and going every other week to Costco. It seemed like every time I went to the store for milk or fresh produce, I would end up spending between $50 and $75 worth of groceries because there was always some treat or sale item I couldn't pass up. Going to Costco every other Friday has helped tremendously because I buy enough milk, produce and bread to last us 2 weeks, so I'm not tempted to go to the local grocery store, unless I need a specialty item like canned beans, sour cream, etc. It also helps on saving gas.  

We are blessed to have an extra refrigerator and a chest freezer in the garage, so there is plenty of room for the overflow of groceries. I don't think we could do this if we didn't have the second refrigerator. I keep the refrigerator in the garage on the highest setting since we keep the extra milk and eggs and produce in it and the freezer at a lower setting than the one in the house because we don't open it as often. I store all the extra loaves of bread in the chest freezer because they take up the most room.

The first two weeks I started this new way of shopping didn't work out as I had hoped. I didn't buy enough milk, so I had to go to the store to get a few gallons to last us until Friday, which defeated the purpose. The second two weeks, I had the opposite problem. I bought too much milk and gave a few gallons to our neighbors. At least we did a Corporal Work of Mercy that week 🙂 By the third cycle, I was able to figure out how much of each item to buy so it would last until the next trip to Costco. I'm a very slow learner.

Ever since I've been shopping this way we have lowered our grocery bill quite a bit. I was spending over a $1000.00 a month for a family of 9 and now I spend  around $350 every two weeks, including cleaning supplies and toiletries. There is no longer the need to make a quick trip to the grocery store because we are out of something, so I don't get tempted to buy extras. Te only negative thing about this is that it takes forever to unload the van and put everything away. I'm exhausted by the time I get home, but I go around 11:00 in the morning and with all the samples they have, the kids are fed for lunch 🙂

Sometime this week I will put together a 3 week cycle menu using all these items. Here is a list of what I buy every two weeks, or monthly, depending on the item. The cleaning supplies and toiletries last for a month, so I don't have to worry about those items until the next month. The grocery bill evens out because I don't have to buy the big items like cleaning supplies, paper products and larger food items every two weeks. I can honestly say I don't miss going to the grocery store at all.

Every 2 weeks:

12 gallons of milk
4 dozen eggs
1 barge bag frozen breakfast sausage patties
8 loaves of bread
10 pound bag of apples
1 package of 6 red peppers
1 package of 6 Romaine hearts
2 packages of grape tomatoes
3 pack of cucumbers
bag of frozen strawberries
bag of frozen blueberries
3 pack bottle of coffee creamer
1 liter of heavy whipping cream
large bags of croutons, bacon bits and slivered almonds
2 boxes of cereal with 2 packs in each box
6 jars of apple sauce
2 bags of mozzarella cheese sticks
2 pack vanilla ice cream- 1 1/2 gallons each
2- 6 packs frozen OJ
1 large bag of tortilla chips
1- 5 lb bag of frozen chicken tenderloins
5 lbs. cubed stew meat

Once a month

Paper products- plates, napkins, toilet paper, coffee cups, trash bags 
1 case of dry pasta
10 lbs ground beef
1 corned beef brisket
5 lbs pork chops
1 large pork loin
1 case of diced tomatoes
5 pound bag of onions
1- 32 oz bag shredded cheddar cheese
1- 32 oz bag shredded mozzarella cheese
10 lb. bag sugar
1 large bottle of salsa
2 pack of strawberry jam
2 pack peanut butter
1 box of 72 slices (3-1 lb.) American cheese
10 pounds red potatoes
5 lbs carrots

Once every two months

Toiletries
3 pack salt, large jars of garlic powder, oregano, pepper, etc.
10 lb. bag flour
1 gallon Canola oil
51 oz bottle olive oil
1- 64 fl oz jug pancake syrup
large bottles mayo, catsup and mustard

Not as often

20 lb. bag of Basmati rice (once every 4 months)
large jar of yeast (once every 6 months)

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