Stir it up Sunday 2012

According to Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions (I’m not obsessed with that book at all…) the Sunday before Advent is considered “stir it up Sunday.”

This old custom probably originated because on the Sunday before Advent, English congregations were exhorted in church to “stir up” and bring “forth the fruit of good works,” a timely reminder to the Victorian women that it was time to prepare the Christmas puddings. Eating plum pudding as the grand finale to Christmas dinner is as English a tradition as you shall ever find. Despite the fact that there is not a plum to be found in the recipe, this dish began during the Middle Ages as plum porridge, and by the 18th century became pudding. The Victorians invented the method of steaming the pudding in a basin – and added brandy. ~Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions

My family is very English and we eat a plum pudding every year after our Christmas dinner. It never occurred to me to try to make it until I read this entry, but Mrs. Sharp included a recipe and so I figured it would be fun to try it.

Getting the ingredients together was quite challenging. It turns out suet is basically impossible to find and I had to go to 4 different liquor stores to find sherry. I was very excited to find a traditional pudding pan at our local kitchen supply store, although the lady there had no idea what it was.

We poured, mixed,  and measured. We sampled the currants and the candied citrus peel (no one was a fan).


It was a messy process, I ended up using my hands to incorporate the butter all the way.

It is sitting in the fridge resting right now, tomorrow we will put it into the pudding pan and then steam it in a boiling water bath for 8 hours! It doesn’t look particularly appetizing at the moment, but I’m hoping after it steams and then sits in a cool dark place for 4 weeks it will be delicious!


{pretty, happy, funny, real}

I’ve been wanting to participate in Like Mother, Like Daughter’s {Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} for ages, I see so many other people participating and enjoy their posts so much! I never seem to remember on Thursdays but today I did!


My girl doing her school work. We are both loving the IEW curriculum we’re using for writing.


This is his happy face. Every time I point my camera at him I get the fake *CHEESE!!!* smile. I know he’ll grow out of it, Mary did but it still makes me want to pull my hair out some days. Especially when I’m trying to get a picture of all three  kids together!!


My mom came for a visit last weekend and introduced my son to the great fun of feeding himself with a spoon!! He has since then refused every attempt I might make to feed him and screams until I let him feed himself. He is actually pretty good at it all things considered… it definitely makes for a lot more clean up though.

We are talking about celebrating Advent with your family next week at the mommy group I attend at our church. Dh was nice enough to dig through the shed for my Advent boxes so I can bring some of our treasures to show everyone. It has kind of taken over my kitchen table though…

Martinmas 2012

We had big plans for the feast of St. Martin this year. Unfortunately a nasty cold has once again invaded our home so we weren’t able to do as much as I had hoped.

We read the story of St. Martin from our copy of Saints: Lives and Illuminations and the kids coloured pictures of St. Martin from Waltzing Matilda.

Mrs. Sharp suggests that Martinmas is a good time to give your children new sweaters, mittens, hats, or other warm clothes. It is also a good time to go through your closets to give some clothes to the poor. We had planned to do that but I was just glad we managed to get our lanterns done.

In many European countries, particularly Germnay, France, and the Netherlands, Martinmas is celebrated with a festival of lanterns,

symbolizing the light of generosity that illuminates the darkness of lack. ~Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions

We made simple mason jar lanterns using tissue paper and modge podge. It was perfect for our little ones. They were able to make them with very little help.

I bought the pack of flameless tea lights from Costco, they were perfect under our jar lanterns and the kids thought eating dinner by lantern light was awesome. We let them take their lanterns to bed afterwards to use as a night light.

Poor sick baby. Not too sick to enjoy squash and potatoes though!!!

St. Martin, pray for us!

Celebrating St. Nicholas Day with Kids

St. Nicholas day is celebrated on December 6th. There are lots of different traditions surrounding this generous saint, this is what we do in our family. Click here to see our 2010 celebrations.

The St. Nicholas Center website has lots of explanations and ideas for celebrating the day.

The night before the kids leave their shoes out with a carrot or apple for St. Nicholas’ horse and some cookies out for the Saint himself (our kids know this is a game, and that a man an horse aren’t actually going to come into our home. That would terrify them).

In the morning they will wake up to a candy cane, orange, and some chocolate coins in a pair of new slippers. They will also each get a new picture book to add to our collection.

Mrs. Sharp says “Saint Nicholas’s visit provides our family with enough foretaste of Christmas to make the waiting pleasurable, and it enables us to look outside ourselves to the holiday needs of others. We can never outgrow the magic of a visit from Saint Nicholas. Invite him into your homes this year and see for yourself.”

We’ll spend the day reading our favourite St. Nicholas picture books and making St. Nicholas hot chocolate to deliver to a few friends.

Here are some of of the St. Nicholas books in our collection:
The Legend of Saint Nicholas (we don’t own this yet but it’s one of my favourites)

The Miracle of St. Nicholas

Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend

The Saint Who Became Santa Claus

This year we are adding:
Santa and the Christ Child
A Special Place for Santa
Merry Christmas Strega Nona
We’re also surprising them with Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving.

A Day Surgery Daybook

Outside my window… is melting snow and 91km winds. In the last two weeks we’ve had 14 inches of snow, frigid temperatures, and then three days of freezing rain. It’s rather treacherous out there. The sun is shining though, which is very welcome after all the snowy days.

I am thinking… of all the exciting Advent family traditions we will be doing this year. I’m working on a post with some ideas for the Advent season.

I am thankful… that Alex’s surgery to have tubes put in was successful and is now behind us. Alex did amazing. He was npo from midnight on and when he woke up at 4:30 this morning decided if he couldn’t eat then the rest of us weren’t allowed to sleep. We got to the hospital for 6:30am like we were instructed but it wasn’t until 10:30am that they finally got us back. Alex did better than either of us ever imagined, as long as he had his soother and his blankey and one of us to walk around with him he was relatively content. I was allowed to stay with him while he was being put to sleep and just 10 (really really long) minutes later the ENT came to tell me everything was fine and he would be brought to me as soon as he was awake. I think the whole floor heard him wake up, he was not a happy baby but snuggles form mom and some milk quickly fixed that. I’m grateful that it was minor and now it’s over ans very hopeful that we will start to see a happier Alex soon.

Learning all the time… now that our books are back out in our living room we have had a renewed interest in reading about the saints. I’ve been lax in our actual school lessons and giving her more free time to read. I think I’m going to stop lessons once Advent starts and focus on Advent activities. I love the flexibility of homeschooling!

From the kitchen… lots of easy food. I need to get back into the habit of using my slow cooker on our busy days.

I am working on… sorting and organizing a ridiculous number of pictures. My husband just bought me a big external storage drive that I can store all my pictures on. My computer was really slowing down having all of my pictures stored on it, it’s nice having them somewhere else but still easily accessible over the network. Now I just have to organize them.
I am creating… some hand made Christmas presents. Not as many as I had originally hoped because I have been spending too much time working on our family photo book for the year. Priorities of course. 🙂

I am going… to a Spark’s meeting tonight. I love being a Spark’s leader and Mary is having a great time with all her friends.
I am hoping… to get to the library one evening this week to do some planning. I work best when I’m out but finding a night that works can be challenging.

I am praying…  me towards, in a not so subtle way. This reflection on the past Sunday’s Gospel is what started it out and I have been hearing it everywhere ever since.

I am reading…  The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. This is a very convicting book and I’m finding I have to read it very slow. Sometimes I can only read a few pages at a time and then I need time to digest and figure out how it applies to me.

I’m also reading this Letter from Pope Benedict for the indiction of the Year of Faith. It’s another one that is best read in small pieces. It’s beautiful though, and so encouraging!

Pondering these words… “But it’s the way I respond to my children in everyday moments that gives me the best chance of winning their hearts. If I have integrity and patience in the small moments of life that are so important to my children, and if I approach them with a servant’s heart, then I have a far better chance of influencing them in the larger and more critical issues of life.” -Sally Clarkson

I am listening…  to Alex complain that he isn’t being fed. We’ve also been listening to a lot of Cat Chat and other podcasts. My dear husband set me up so I can play podcasts through the TV so I have been listening to lots of Dr. Ray, Open Line, and Catholic Answers.

Around the house…  trying to remember to spend more time playing games and reading with my littles and less time stressing about things I can’t control.

One of my favorite things… 

My boys sitting watching Mighty Machines together.

This week’s plans…

Monday- Surgery, Sparks

Tuesday- School, preschool, Parenting class.

Wednesday- Mommy group, library?

Thursday- preschool, Mom coming!?

Friday- breathe….

A little peek at my day…

Sorry about the blurry cell phone pictures. He didn’t stay still… ever.

The problem with homeschooling.

As home schoolers we love books and we have a lot of them. I’m fairly certain the situation we find ourselves in is not unique to us: lots and lots of books, not enough room on the bookshelves.

I drool longingly over solid wood bookshelves online but the price tags always hold me back. One day I would love to have a library in my home, and bookshelves in every room; all of them filled with books to inspire my children’s imagination. Today though I was quite happy to settle for a nice new bookshelf for our living room.

It is challenging finding a nice looking, sturdy book shelf that isn’t made of mdf for a decent price. We lucked out finding a nice one (on sale!!) this weekend. I wish we had been earlier because we would have bought at least 2!

Everyone was excited to help put it together. Alex especially had a great time making sure he was *right* where the action was.

I love books. When we started changing around our living room back in August we took out the old (cheap) bookshelves we had from my University days. We haven’t had any books out in our living room since then with the exception of our seasonal book basket. I have missed our books but I didn’t realize how much until I started unpacking boxes of them and organizing them on my new shelf.

One of my favourite things is a neatly organized full bookshelf. However, our collection of picture books is not exactly conducive to neat and organized. My husband had a great time making fun of my frustration with different sized books that wouldn’t fit nicely in their place. Despite his suggestions that we just cut the books that were too long or wide I persisted and for the most part found a system that works.

Yay. There is something so happy about seeing all our Catholic picture books lined up along their shelf. They are so much more accessible!

Celebrating All Saints Day


While we do usually take our kids trick or treating on Halloween (it was -25 and windy last night so it just didn’t happen) we try to put more emphasis on All Saints Day. I pulled out some of our favourite picture books about the saints and we have had a fun and relaxing day reading and learning about our friends in Heaven.

I printed some saintly colouring pages for them to colour while listening to stories.

We will listen to the Amazing Angels and Super Saints episode of Cat Chat. My kids LOVE cat chat, they can be purchased through itunes. We will also listen some of our Glory Stories (also downloaded from itunes), we love these as well.

Some favourites from our collection:
Saints: Lives & Illuminations

Picture Book of Saints

Saints for Young Readers for Every Day

Book of Saints

We are hoping to carve our pumpkins in to Saint-O-Lanterns today but it might have to wait until this weekend. I love the idea of taking Halloween traditions and turning them into Saintly ones.

Happy Halloween! 2012

We did lots of fun Halloween activities on Saturday, I’m glad we did now because according to the weather network it’s going to be -21 Wednesday! That is going to put a bit of a damper on trick or treating fun.

Our Famer’s Market has a Halloween party for the kids. They get passports and go around to each vendor getting them stamped and collecting candy.
Alex had a blast. He got a lot of attention in his adorable dragon costume.
Filled passports!

After we were done at the Farmer’s Market we went to the All Saint’s Day carnival our church was having. There were lots of little saint themed games for them to play.

Luke loved the doughnut on a string!

Mary did great at bean bag toss!
…and Alex enjoyed wreaking havoc at every opportunity.

Canning 2012

Bread & Butter Pickles– (recipe in hungry soup) 8 lbs pickling cucumbers into 8 pints of bread & butter.

We love these just as much as we did last year. YUM.

*eta: Did 13 more pints tonight for a total of 20 for this year.
70lbs pickles, 21 pints bread & butter, 3.5 lbs into relish, 2 quarts and 1 pickle jar into fermented pickles

Peach BBQ sauce (page 263 Bernardin)- This is tasty. We didn’t have any hot pepper flakes so I added some Jack Daniel’s instead and let it cook down a lot. The recipe says it makes 8 half pints but we only got 6. It’s really delicious on chicken and fish!

Pickled Green Beans– (Well Preserved)
We all love these, 9lbs of green beans into 17.5 pints.
Picked green beans at Summer’s Gold u-pick for $1.50/lb

Dilled Carrots (Bernarding) 15lbs of carrots into 13 pints

Sweet Relish (recipe here) double batch made 7 1/4 pints.
This is SO yummy, exactly what I was looking for in a relish.

Corn Relish
16 ears local sweet corn was 12 cups, three small red peppers, one large green, 5-6 on the vine tomatoes.
Recipe made 10 pints exactly.

*this is so yummy we went and got more corn and made a second batch. Next year wait until beginning of September to buy corn, cobs are much bigger (more corn for $).  4 pints, 10 half pints. Added 4 seeded jalapenos to this batch, added flavour but no heat. Husband wants more heat.

Peaches: 18 into Peach Honey Butter (got 8 half pints) I let this cook down a ton, it would have been much tastier if I hadn’t burnt it a little bit.

6 cups into Peach Pie Jam (SB Canning) This is delicious!!! So yummy. Got 7 half pints


1kg figs into double recipe of strawberry fig jam. This is fantastic!!! Exactly 7 half pints. (recipe here)


lots of plucots into plucot jam for my grandad. Made 3 batches of recipe in certo box. Each recipe makes 4 pints. *note: this jam is delicious. Like really good. We never make enough for us.