A Simple Feast and a Very Special Ker-prize.

Our Michaelmas celebrations are simple.  They’re not meant to be another Christmas or Thanksgiving – just a reasons to eat good food together and reflect on the changing seasons.  I think the reason Michaelmas is celebrated around the turn on the season is that, in the past, we’ve needed something to inspire us to be brave and courageous when facing a long winter.  One last hurrah before things changed.

My first homemade Michaelmas chicken turned out perfectly.  I followed this recipe for spices, temperature, etc. and then took a suggestion to add some butter under the skin which I think made this recipe perfect.  The chicken basically cooked in browned butter for three or four hours.  Delicious.

The whole meal was simple, but special.  Just the roast chicken, the veggies, bread and apple cider, but all oh so good!  I also made my Cinnamon Cream Cheese Blackberry Tarts, and my grandparents are still shouting their praises.

And of course there was our special Michaelmas surprise (or Ker-prize if you’re a certain adorable 2.5 year old).  We had some friends join us.  Let me introduce you to Sir Michael, Louie and the Very Helpful Dragon.

Mister Very Helpful Dragon looks rather fierce, but I assure you it’s all hot air and he has already saved Sir Michael and his faithful servant Louie from many unfortunate falls from high ledges.  It is rather lucky that he is a nice dragon because Sir Michael is currently in an unfortunate habit of forget to bring his sword on his quests.  (Oops)

Sir Michael and Louie were made a few weekends ago by my mother and I based on the Knight and Squire Pattern from Wee Folk Art and using Wooden Rope Dolls from A Child’s Dream.  These were actually quite easy to make and probably only took about 3-4 hours total (if you factor in picking out the felt, cutting fabric, etc.)  I have another set of figures that will hopefully become our child’s nativity set this year and I can’t wait to see how that turns out.

I’m not getting paid or reimbursed to say this – but I was above and beyond pleased with the speed of my transaction with A Child’s Dream – my order was shipped under 24 hours after purchase and I had a box on my doorstep within days.

Sir Michael, Louie and the Very Helpful Dragonhelped to guard our dessert from invaders.

I can definitely see more of these little guys finding their way into our home in the future – they’re the perfect size for figures of Saints and Heroes that little ones can really play with.

We finished off the weekend with a trip with cousins to a pumpkin patch to see animals and point out all the “yucky” pumpkins.  The last time these boys got together they couldn’t really talk with each other and it’s great to see them acting like old friends.

How was your Michaelmas weekend?  If you celebrated Michaelmas or just the coming Fall this weekend feel free to leave a link!

Celebrating Michaelmas

This weekend we’ll be observing our second Michaelmas, or the Feast of Sts. Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel the Archangels.  Even though it is a new tradition for us I have been looking forward to this for a long time.  While I find myself wishing more people around us celebrated these Holy Days it’s nice to have a holiday just to our selves.  If you want a glimpse into what our Michaelmas looked like last year hop back here.

These are a few of the traditions we’ll be repeating this year:

Food:

  • We’ll be making a small feast of roast chicken, carrots, and other fall foods.  I have the weekend off this year so I’ll be trying to cook my first whole chicken this year.
  • We’ll be making our cinnamon cream cheese blackberry deserts that were such a hit last year.
  • I’m really tempted to make Jamie’s Apple Cake too because we’re swimming in apples!

Books:

  • Since there aren’t a lot of books about Michael the Archangel we make do with books about knights and dragons.

Traditions:

New Additions:

  • We have a few new friends to help us learn about Michaelmas this year – but you’ll have to come back on Monday to see what they are!

With Henry being a little older I think we’ll try our hand a few more projects:

Are you celebrating Michaelmas?  Perhaps this will be your first year?  I’ll be back on Monday to show you a few pictures from our celebration and I’d love to hear about your festivities too!

    11 {Banned} Books You Should Be Reading WITH Your Child

    A while back a friend mentioned that she was reading “The Giver” for the first time because her junior high aged daughter was assigned the book for class.  “Get to the end before she does,” I warned. “Or at least get to the scene the baby twin before her.  It’s a doosey.:”

    She did finish the book before her daughter and was glad to have done so.  That scene where you learn what the father is really in charge of doing at his job haunts me to this day.  It’s gripping, terrifying and incredibly sad, but it’s worth reading.

    I recommend to most of my friends with older children, as they begin to navigate their schools literature selections that it’s not about keeping books out of a child’s reach, but knowing what they’re reading and when.  I encourage all parents to read the books their children are reading in school whether it’s Little House on the Prairie or Animal Farm.  Be able to engage your children about what they’re reading; challenge the lessons that other take away from the books particularly if you’re worried about the lessons they might be learning from other.  Encourage them to be the Devil’s Advocate in class and challenge (intelligently and respectfully) the notions of others.

    In honor of Banned Books Week I offer my list of  
    11 Banned Books You Should Be Reading WITH Your Child.

          
           
             
               
                 
                     
                       
                         
                           
                             

                              This is far from a complete list, rather a short list of books commonly found on English Class reading lists.  These are books that challenge our ideas of morality, government, sexuality, race and gender  These are challenged books because they are challenging.
                               
                              There are so many more – Black Beauty, Harry Potter, The Bridge to Terebithia, Frankenstein, Howl, In the Night Kitchen, A Light in the Attic, The Witches, Their Eyes Were Watching God, – that you’ll encounter as your children discovery their library !

                               I would encourage any parent to request a reading list from your children’s teachers each year  This is not a stunt to control your child’s reading material, but rather to encourage you, the parent, to have a better understanding of what issues and ideas are going on in your child’s mind. You children will come face to face with very challenging reading material as they get older – I encourage you, as a parent, to face that challenge head on by engaging with your children as they read and  creating a dialogue at home about the images and ideas they’re confronting for the first time. 

                              This is not about approving of everything your child might be assigned to read at school or every book they find at the library or is recommended by a friend – it’s about walking alongside your child as they develop their tastes, interests and opinions.

                              Go Here to see a more complete list of challenged and banned books – what’s your favorite?

                              This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.

                              “You Want Weapons?  We’re in a Library!  
                              Books!  
                              The Best Weapons in the World!”
                              – Doctor Who 

                              An Unexpected Hobbit Day Party

                              September 22 is the birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, but do you really need a reason to celebrate all things Hobbit?  The correct answer is not at all.

                              Here’s a few ideas to help you celebrate your Hobbitiness in true Hobbit Style.

                              The most important part of a good Hobbit Day celebration is Food and Drink.  Celebrate the right way with a few (or all of the following):

                              But be careful not to Chip the Glasses or Crack the Plates!

                                Make sure not to forget that true Hobbits expect multiple meals a day.  Most importantly don’t forget to indulge in a nice Second Breakfast.  (for more information on Hobbit meals go HERE )

                                In between meals, when not smoking a good pipe or sleeping, enjoy a little outside activity or sit down and challenge you friends to a good game of Riddles or you could retrace your Family Tree which is always good fun if you forget that you third cousin twice removed married one of those Tooks.  Some of us might have to brush up on our Hobbit  Names – henceforth I am Lila Sandybanks, also known as Linwe Nenharma in Elvish.

                                Perhaps you’d like to read  a few good stories – might I suggest starting here:

                                Or perhaps you’d like to relax and listen to stories being told:

                                If any Dwarves decide to crash your party Here’s a little cheat sheet to help you keep them straight.

                                Don’t be afraid to let your hair down a little and have a good time.

                                I highly recommend ending the night with a rousing display of fireworks – set off by a responsible adult (and remember Hobbits don’t come of age until 33)

                                Have a great weekend friends!
                                As for me….

                                (the above will be me getting off work on Sunday ::wink,wink::)

                                Preparing the Pantry: Other Essentials

                                Welcome back to Part 3 of Preparing the Pantry.  We’ll have one more part in the series next week to wrap up and then on to October!  Don’t forget to check out PART 1 and PART 2

                                Today I wanted to share a few of the other items that I keep on hand, but first I wanted to share a little more about why I like keeping a well stocked pantry.

                                I Keep A Well Stocked Pantry Because:

                                • It gives me flexibility in my meal choices.  If I don’t get around to meal planning for the week or life throws a curve, I have plenty of options without needing to immediately run out to get pizza.
                                • It gives me reason to cook more from scratch.  I can find a new recipe and try it out without needing a separate grocery trip.
                                • It gives me the opportunity to be generous.  If a friend or family member gets thrown a curve I have the materials at hand to provide.  If the neighborhood kids come around collecting for the food pantry I have no reason not be generous.
                                • It gives me the ability to be prepared.  I live in an area where weather can be tricky and little bit scary.  If I loose power, or am housebound for a day or two we don’t have to worry about getting to the store.  And if you’ve ever seen a Midwestern Approaching Blizzard rush at a grocery store you too would do what you could to avoid it.
                                • It gives me flexibility in my budget.  When times are a little easier I can stock up and if things get tight it will be a little while before the belt tightening would affect the size of our meals.
                                To round out our well stocked pantry discussion I wanted to share my top 20 Essentials:

                                1. Flour – White and Wheat
                                2. Sugar
                                3. Baking Powder
                                4. Baking Soda
                                5. Vanilla Extract
                                6. Olive Oil
                                7. Honey
                                8. Oatmeal – I like Quick Oats and Steel Cut
                                9. Tomato Sauce
                                10. Tuna and Canned Chicken
                                11. Popcorn
                                12. Ketchup
                                13. Mustard
                                14. Maple Syrup
                                15. Vinegar – White, Apple Cider, Balsamic, Red and White Wine
                                16. Worcestershire Sauce
                                17. Pasta – Shells, Lasagna, Spaghetti, Macaroni Elbows
                                18. Favorite Spices – Oregano, Garlic, Onion, Cumin, Cinnamon, etc.
                                19. Cocoa
                                20. Dried Fruits – Cranberries, raisins, blueberries etc.
                                Do you keep a pantry?  What are some of your must haves?
                                Shared @ Little House in the Suburbs and  Frugally Sustainable 

                                St. Hildegard von Bingen: A Saint for the Modern Woman

                                Today is the Feast Day of St. Hildegard of Bingen.  While she’s only been formally recognized a Saint for a few years, her title of Saint also came with the Title “Doctor of the Church”.  A Doctor of the Church is some recognized as contributing greatly to theology or doctrine.  It’s a title which has been given to 35 people, currently only 4 of them are women (we’re still catching up in that regard).

                                In her time she was a Jack of all trades when it came to her religious life – she has an extensive bibliography, composed music, corresponding with Popes, received visions and was a scholar of medicine and the natural world.  In a time when women were intentionally kept in the Dark Ages her accomplishments were and are phenomenal.

                                We still live in a world where the education of women is a divisive topic.  Some of you might have already read through this gem about not sending your daughters to college, and I can say the backlash from the Catholic community was enormous.  It is sad that we still have these debates; we need to move forward, not backward to time when women were glass figures guarded and handed off to the next man responsible from her.

                                The modern woman, encouraged and supported by our last 3 Popes so well, is amazing in her ability to follow her vocation, whatever that may be, in harmony of her feminine genius.  We can be career women, religious, mothers, and so much more with any amount of education we desire and all the experiences, good and bad that come with the temptations of life.

                                So today I recommend that St. Hildegard become our patron saint – the patron saint of any clever, able minded woman discerning her role in this world.