Monthly Picks

August Picks

As the days of summer are flitting away, our family is enjoying a little Shakespeare.  In fact, we’ve taken Fr. Z’s Sonnet A Day Challenge and are simply doing that–reading a sonnet a day.

As you may know, Shakespeare’s first twenty or so of the 154 sonnets feature the same theme: they’re all an attempt to convince a selfish, vain young man to get married and have children.  O, what perfect poetry for our culture!

August Favorites:

Favorite Collection of Poems:  Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Favorite Audible Purchase:  J.R.R. Tolkien’s Farmer Giles of Ham.  We do also have this short story in book-form featuring other Tolkien gems, but I wanted an audio version for our trip last week.  We were not disappointed in this version read by Derek Jacobi.  It was so entertaining, our children were laughing out loud.  In fact, we all were.

Best Option For Running Gear?  You know, I like to jog a mile or two every day, and I refuse to wear just leggings.  Or shorts for that matter.  I like Capri Skirts.  I recently purchased these for running.  I love them.

Best Newspaper:  The Remnant.  I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again.  This newspaper is a must.  It’s so important to have sane news coming into your home that is not necessarily shouting out of a screen.  If you don’t have a subscription, you’re missing out.  It’s worth it, if only for Michael Matt’s column.  (This week’s edition featured an article outlining the dangers of mask-wearing.  Oooo, so controversial.  Love it.)

The Girls’ Favorite Coloring Book:  Late Victorian and Edwardian Fashions, naturally.  Those Dover Coloring Books are great.

And finally, for a little humor…

Best “News” Story:  15-Passenger Vans Sold Out Nationwide…HERE!

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Monthly Picks

June Picks: Late Edition

Yes, it is now July, and I’m very late in getting after this.  Somehow the summer days slip by, and I thought, ah well, better late than never.

My Favorite June Things

  1. Jumping off docks at 8:00 in the morning is always a great thing.
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    Exhilarating!

    We spent a few peaceful days at my parents’ lake cabin.  Naturally the children wanted to swim all day.  My only requirement was that they first eat breakfast and then wait that full hour before taking the plunge…yeah right.  They shoveled in breakfast, scrambled into their suits, and literally ran off the end of the dock–end of story.

    And how about me?  Did I follow suit?  Not a chance.  I drank my coffee and read The Remnant on shore.

    2.  Catching Fish is a favorite for the boys.
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The boys caught this thing off the end of the dock.  Don’t ask me what kind of fish it was.  I love to eat fish, but I hate to touch them.

3.  Drinking wine on the deck with my husband and eating olives is a lovely way to spend an evening.

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I buy these from Sam’s Club because they’re reasonably priced.

I think I could live off of wine, bread, cheese, and olives–in all their varieties of course.  I’m pretty sure that all the food groups are present in the above list: fruit, grain, milk, vegetables…  Well, what are olives anyway?  Vegetables?  Fruit?  Meat?  Somebody clue me in, for I’m too lazy to Google it.

4.  I love fresh wild flowers from the backyard for my table every day.

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This is the Little Girls’ job.

The Little Girls supply me with fresh flowers for both the dining room and the breakfast-nook table every day.  They just hike up our hill in the backyard and gather at will.

At our old place in North Dakota, the ditches were very obliging for these kinds of bouquets.  We always found such things as alfalfa, aster, sunflowers or goldenrod.

Here, on the very edge of eastern Minnesota?  I’m still figuring it out.  We’ve got butterfly-weed, clover, fleabane, and what looks like daisies.

5.  Corpus Christi Processions are definitely a June favorite.

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Here’s the start of ours, as they were processing out of the Church.
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Father, Jesus, and 4 “Laymen of Distinction” holding the canopy.
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And heading around the block.

Our Corpus Christi procession featured six Torch Bearers, two Acolytes, two Thurifers, a Cross-Bearer, an MC, four Laymen of Distinction carrying the canopy, our priest, and Jesus Christ King of the Universe.  The rest of us trailed behind in gratitude and thanksgiving.

6.  Another favorite?  Campfires in the backyard with s’mores.

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Sure bliss.

The boys built a fire pit in our backyard up on the hill.  After dousing and sanctifying it and the surrounding area with Holy Water, we proceeded to enjoy a small blaze.  Everyone had to have a bath afterwards.

7.  Lastly, a DIY project.  Who doesn’t need a white cross in their backyard?

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In our neighborhood a couple of houses have erected large white crosses, which they lit up brilliantly during Lent and the Easter octave.  (Given these dark times, perhaps we ought to keep them perpetually lit?)

Anyway, as we had some extra wood lying around, my husband put one together.  And if you look closely at the photo, you’ll also see a small statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus off to the right.  This is our children’s mini shrine.

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Here’s Jesus.  We didn’t want Him to tip over, so we had to “ground” him in a flower pot.  The Little Girls are growing marigolds for Him.
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This is a view of the valley which our Cross overlooks.

DIY: Instructions on how to build your own Cross:

  1. Rummage around the garage for some spare wood.
  2. Get one of your sons to saw two pieces of wood to whatever lengths you desire, allowing extra length for the vertical beam to be buried.
  3. Grab the spare can of white paint from the basement.  If it’s not crusted and rusted over, and if it happens to be an exterior paint as well, paint your wood.
  4. Use one stake and a couple of screws to affix the crossbeam to the vertical beam.
  5. Get your husband to dig a deep hole.  (Who are we kidding?  In this household, my husband’s been doing all the work on this project already.)
  6. Keep digging.  You’ll need the hole to be deeper than you think.  (Apparently 10% of the length of a transmission pole, plus an addition foot, is buried beneath the ground for stability, etc.)
  7. Stand off from afar, as your husband holds the heavy cross, and say such things as, “A little to the left now.  Oh, well, a little to the right.  That’s it.  No, now it’s crooked!”
  8. Send a kid to the garage for the level to place on the crossbeam.
  9. Fill in the hole, crack a bottle of wine, and enjoy it from a distance.
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It’s nothing fancy, but because it’s white, you can see it when you enter the valley about a 1/2 mile away.  I can’t wait to wrap bright, white lights on it for Lent.
Monthly Picks

April Picks-Coronavirus Edition

Disclaimer: I may have been feeling a bit…fractious when I wrote this.

Let’s see…what are my favorite things this month?

Favorite Non-Drive-Thru Restaurant:  Um, nope.  They’re all closed.

Favorite Time to Be in the Hospital:  Right now.  They’re empty.  Literally.  Take my word for it; I have personal experience with two different hospitals this month.

Favorite Result of Coronavirus:  The Kung Flu Kick-Back.  Sometimes it just pays to have lots of kids.  Our check was for $5,900.  Yours?  (At least now we can pay our hospital bills.)

Favorite Secular Easter Activity:  The Easter Egg hunt with all the cousins.  Lots of “social distancing” happening there…

Favorite Homeschooling Subject Right Now:  The Constitution and The Bill of Rights

Favorite Article of the Bills of Rights:  Article the Third… Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble

Favorite Priest:  Mine.  May the holy angels protect him and blind his enemies.  Thank you, Father, for providing all the Sacraments for us.  Now if only our government would consider churches “Essential.”

Favorite Bishop:  Anthanasius Schneider.  May he live a long and healthy life.

Favorite Online Controversy:  SSPX Lives Matter too.  No, I’m not an SSPXer, but man, am I thankful for their courageous fight.  Dr. Marshall has a great video out there, if you’re interested.  (I’ve actually met the SSPX priest that Marshall interviews; he’s great.)

Favorite Sign to Contemplate:  “Thank You to Our Essential Workers!”  But what I want to know is, what about all the nonessential workers who sacrificed their jobs.  I think I’d be really thankful for them too.  They’re really suffering with no income, etc.  And what a label!  Guess what?  Oh, you lost you’re job?  It’s because you’re non-essential.  Lord, spare us.

Favorite Outdoor Activity:  Playing basketball at the local park.  Oh wait, never mind.  The public officials actually took the rims off of our basketball hoops because some teenage boys got together an intense game few weeks ago.

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Actual picture from our local playground.  No hoops.  They closed the playground equipment too.

Favorite Drink:  All wine.  Box wine, bottled wine, red wine, white wine, cold, room temperature, hot…shoot, between the Psalms and Hilaire Belloc, I’m convinced that wine and Jesus are the only things that’ll get us through this Government-Mandated-Marshall-Law-Quarantine-Kung-Flu-Communist-Lock-Down.  May it end soon.  Amen.  Alleluia.

(See Disclaimer above.)

Monthly Picks

March Picks

What have you found enjoyable this month?  Here are a few of my favorites:

  1.  Grandma sent the little girls dresses for Easter.  Who doesn’t love Easter dresses?  Of course they won’t be able to wear them to Mass for a few weeks, but here are two of them trying them on:
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Do I need to say that these two cried when I took the dresses off?

2.  Favorite March book?  Antonio Socci’s, The Fourth Secret of Fatima.  It’s been awhile since I haven’t been able to put a book down.  If you’re interested in the doings of the popes in the 20th century, as concerns Sr. Lucia and Fatima, then you won’t be disappointed.  Socci, an Italian journalist and author, gives a thorough and fascinating and horrifying account of that mysterious 3rd Secret.  Warning: he assumes you are already familiar with Fatima.  (This is not a book for those reading about Fatima for the first time.)

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Drop me a line if you decide to read this book.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

3.  Kids’ favorite book?  Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family.  My children–all of them–greatly enjoyed listening to this book on Audible.  I, too, not only enjoyed it, but learned a bit about Jewish families living in New York City in the early 1900s.  Very sweet.

4.  Favorite fruit?  While my children will eat any fruit, I’ve been finding those cheap pineapples very convenient.  I’ve been buying them for $2.98.  I’ve been restricting myself to one pineapple a week, because I don’t want the children to get sick of them.  But really, I should up it to at least 2, as we eat the whole thing in one sitting.

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Another reason why I love pineapples (and bananas)?  They don’t take up any room in the refrigerator.

5.  Favorite Bread?  Hands down, Renaissance Bread from Galesville, WI.  Fortunately for us, this little bakery, owned and operated by 2 sisters, is not only organic, but delivers once a week to a grocery store in La Crosse.  As I was buying them out every week, I decided to call them and ask if they’d put together a standing, weekly order of 6 loaves for me?  Oh yes, of course!  God bless those sisters!

6.  And…what about wine?  We’ve been enjoying J. Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was on sale this month at Sam’s Club for $9.71, so I bought 6 bottles.

7.  Lastly, Favorite YouTube Video?  Aw, you knew it was going to be Dr. Taylor Marshall.  He’s got some great ones this month.  My kids really enjoyed watching this one on communion rails.  Me?  I found his interview with Timothy Flanders on Corona Virus very interesting.

8.  My Husband’s Favorite Thing About March?  His birthday.  He turns 38 on the 16th.

Monthly Picks

February Picks

Here are some of my favorite things for February:

Favorite New Parish:  St. James the Less in La Crosse, WI.  Seriously, we couldn’t have landed in a better place for kind families, beautiful Latin Masses, and heavenly scholas.  I’ll telling you, this place has got it going on.  They even have potlucks every Sunday after the 11am Mass.  It’s all such a blessing.

Favorite Outdoor Activity:  Hiking.  The weather seems so much more mild here that it makes it easy to be out-of-doors.

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Hiking around Grandad’s Bluff

I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t mention all the sledding going on.  The boys drag their sleds almost every day to the park and sled down the steep sides into the baseball field.

Favorite Cocktail:  The Copyright, which is a signature drink from the La Crosse Distilling Co. and consists of Barrel-aged Fieldnotes Potato Vodka, Orange Liqueur, Honey, Lemon, and Angostura Bitters.  Here a picture of it:

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High Rye Highball on the left and Copyright on the right.

This place was hopping last Saturday night.  We can’t wait to go back and try more local drinks.  Click HERE for their website and more pictures.

Family Game of the Month:  Last month was Catan, and indeed, the children are still at it, but lately Chess has captured more attention.  This is because the 4 older children played in a local Chess Tournament, wherein The Eldest actually took the championship. She claims it was all luck.  My husband said it was all his doing with his careful and attentive teaching at home.  Her brothers say that she owes it all to them for spending hours playing with her, and I say it was all due to her grandpa’s expertise and guidance.

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This tournament was a “Swiss” style tournament with 5 rounds.  (Whatever that means.  I’ve never played Chess in my life.)  It was held at Providence Academy.

Best Amazon Purchase:  My 3 Tier 12 Bottle Wine Rack for $14.99.  Too bad it didn’t come stocked with wine.

Most Enjoyable February Book:  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  I’m revisiting it again, probably for the 4th or 5th time.  If you’ve never read it, you’re missing out.  Mr. Rochester is my all-time favorite male character in a novel.  Yes, he even beats Mr. Darcy from Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  HERE’S my favorite Audible version.

My Kids’ Favorite February Supper:  Hot dogs.  Yuck.  Just yuck.  But I was desperate the other day.  We were in Survival Mode.

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That’s sauerkraut on the back burner.

And here’s what I had for supper that night…

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That’s my new wine rack in the background.

Anybody have anything good to share for February?

Monthly Picks

January Picks

Here are some of my favorite things lately.  Is there anything you’ve been enjoying?  I’d love to hear about it.

January Picks

Favorite Children’s Book on Audible:  Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Brink.  Since we’re moving to Wisconsin, we thought this book pertinent, which it is.  But, seriously, it’s very entertaining too.

Favorite Read Aloud:  Rebecca Caudill’s Tree of Freedom, which we’re in the middle of.  The children groan every time I put it down.  “Ah, Mom!  Can’t you just read one more page?”  But a girl’s gotta have Quiet Time; I can’t read aloud all day long.

My Favorite Read:  Hands down, Hilaire Belloc’s Path to Rome.  Every time I read it, I just chuckle and laugh to myself.  He’s so witty!  Everything I’ve ever read by him is a gem, including this travelogue.

Best Amazon Purchase:  Besides my new dress with pockets?  The board game Catan.  We can’t stop playing it; our whole family is addicted.  In fact, we should really consider purchasing the 5-6 player Expansion.  And Sea-Farers.  Or Cities and Knights

Favorite YouTube Video:  Yes, I just made this a category.  But if you haven’t been watching Dr. Taylor Marshall, you’re missing out.  We especially enjoyed THIS one.

Best Movie Seen in an Actual Movie Theater:  Yeah, I know, right?!  I actually saw a movie in the movie theater.  It’s the first time that’s happened in about ten years, and it was worth it, even if there were jabs at marriage and the plight of women in the 1800s.  The ironic thing is, is that in this movie (and the book) all the women end up married.  Go figure.  In any case, go see Little Women.  You’ll sob.  (And thank you to my mother-in-law for inviting me!)

Favorite Drink:  A Gibraltar.  This is a double-shot of espresso with an ounce or so of steamed milk served in a tiny tumbler.  You gotta try it.  If you live in Bismarck, North Dakota, go to Anima Cucina and order one.  Jason makes the best drinks there.

Best Idea Ever:  Pay your children a dollar for every lesson in the Baltimore Catechism that they memorize.  Our children are on a learning frenzy, thanks to my husband.  I guess money can be a good motivator…

Happy January!