Life is Worth Living

Ode to My Box Wine – Splendor of My Refrigerator

Anyone in need of a little lighter fare?

Remember when I wrote that Ode to my Coffee Pot?  Well, I have something else that I’d like to honor and call to your attention.  It’s my Box Wine.

Without any further ado, here is my Ode to My Box Wine in modern, “free” verse.  (Whatever that means.)

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Got this one on sale the other day for $17.  There’s the equivalent of 4 bottles of wine in that thing.  O joyous Safeguard of sanity! O Splendor of my Refrigerator!

Ode to My Box Wine

Even though you take up much needed space in my refrigerator,

I praise you, Box Wine,

for you are gloriously and wondrously made.

O Hope of desperate mothers!

O Comforter at the end of an exasperating day!

Just one glass is enough to fill our hearts with gladness.

After a day of cleaning up urine all over toilet seats, floors, and walls,

and scrubbing feces from onesies and seat-holders,

and wearing spit-up and drool,

You are my Illustrious Reward.

O Vessel of Joy!

Some things must be prioritized to allow for your presence:

Ketchup or Box Wine?

5th gallon of milk or Box Wine?

Sauerkraut or Box Wine?

(Oh wait, we’re German and cannot actually live without sauerkraut.)

Water pitcher or Box Wine?

Some things just have to go.

For you are our Solace in the midst of woe.

O Bestower of Buzzes!

And Terror of Bad Moods!

You are the Splendor of my refrigerator.

May you live a long life

and never run dry!

May you be as a Stone Jar at the Wedding Feast of Cana!

O Happy Box of Brilliance!

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She fits right in.

 

Have a friend who needs a glass of wine?  Be sure to send this post along.

 

Life is Worth Living

Time for Cocktails!

As this is summer, I am wondering what you all are enjoying in the evenings?  I like a glass of wine* or two, but every now and then, I like a cocktail too.

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This is a Classic Martini.  2.5 oz. dry gin, .5 oz dry vermouth, and an olive.  I hate Classic Martinis.  Yuck.  My husband loves them though.

Summer Drinks

The other night, my husband and I enjoyed a Lemon Martini (on the left) and a Rob Roy (on the right).

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As the famous Fr. Z asks, “which is mine?”

Lemon Martinis

Some of you have asked how we make our Lemon Martinis?  (By we, I mean my husband.  Who are kidding?  I don’t make the drinks around here.  I just drink ’em.)  My husband pours equal parts freshly squeezed lemon, dry vermouth, and vodka into a shaker with ice.  Then he shakes it violently and pours it into my martini glass.

So of course, it isn’t a true martini, as it has no gin.

And what’s around that rim?  It’s sugar.  He does this by wetting the rim with the lemon wedge and then tipping the glass upside down onto a plate of sugar.  It’s worth the extra minute of two waiting.

Rob Roy

The second drink, my husband’s drink, is a Rob Roy.  This is two parts Scotch, one part dry vermouth, and two dashes of Angostura bitters.  Rob Roys can also be made with sweet vermouth or even with equal parts of both, but my husband prefers dry.

This is also poured into a shaker with ice and shaken.  Then it’s poured into a martini glass and enjoyed.

Helpful Tools

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My husband loves his Drink Tool shown above.

When making cocktails, it’s helpful to have a cocktail shaker and something to measure shots with.  A simple shot glass will do, or if you have a nifty tool like the one above, you’re good to go.  You’ll notice that on this tool, on the left, is a little measuring cup while on the right are other useful things – most notably the extended stick used as a juicer.  This juicer gets a lot of use in our house for drinks requiring lemons or limes.

What are you all drinking this summer?  Drop a line in the comment box!

*One of my favorite scripture verses involve wine.  The following one comes from Psalm 104:14-15.
“You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread to strengthen man’s heart.”
Notice that?  Wine to gladden the hearts of men and bread to strengthen us.  Two of the best things ever.  God is good!
What's for Supper?

What’s For Supper? Italian Minestrone

Tonight we had a lettuce salad, Italian Minestrone, and bread.

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Lettuce Salad with feta, yellow & red peppers, and kalamata olives.

Now I know that my Minestrone may not be true Italian Minestrone because it’s lacking cabbage and Italian sausage.  The fact is, I didn’t have any Italian sausage because I’m not Italian.  But I did have venison sausage because I’m a North Dakotan, and my husband hunts.  Every fall he shoots a deer, hangs it, guts it, cuts it up, and then has his butcher process it for us.  Hence venison sausage.

So maybe, I ought to call it North Dakotan Minestrone?

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“Italian” Minestrone

Now what to drink with this soup?  I understand soup is difficult to pair with wine.  I looked it up and came across two suggestions.  The first was a sparkling red.   Well, I didn’t have any sparkling red.  Next, I read that a Sangiovese will do, with the most popular Sangiovese around here being Chianti.  Alas, but I was fresh out of Chianti.

What to do?

Some of you may be wondering what I did have in the wine rack?  Only a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.  And when all else fails and one only has a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, one drinks Cabernet Sauvignon.

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I suppose I spent about $10 on this Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was good.

Notice the bread in the picture?  I bought it from our local bakery, Bread Poets.  They buy wheat from the farmers around here and grind (or should I say mill?) it themselves.  It’s the best.  This particular loaf is stuffed with tomato sauce and pepperonis.  Who wouldn’t like that?

Recipe for “Italian” Sausage Minestrone

Ingredients
1 lb. “Italian” Sausage
2 large carrots, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
olive oil
7 cups chicken broth
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 cup small pasta
shredded Parmesan for serving

Directions
In a Dutch oven, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.

In the same pan, saute the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic in oil until tender.  Stir in everything else, except pasta and Parmesan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Put the pasta in the last 5 or 6 minutes.  Serve with Parmesan.

 

Life is Worth Living

Welcome to the Family!

Dear Readers,

I can’t help but spread a little cheer.  My brother has just announced his engagement to the lovely lady in the photo below.  They both have suffered a lot through previous “marriages,” which have been annulled.  God is giving them a second chance to do things rightly.

All I can say is, congratulations!  And welcome to the family!

And then I have two bits of advice for all Engaged Couples.

Advice for Engaged Couples

  1. Start praying together now, if you aren’t already.  (This goes for you married couples too.)  This is so important.  Not only will it help you when things get tough, but just think of the example you are setting for your children.
  2. Go to confession.  We are all sinners, and we all need to frequent this sacrament.  (Married couples included.)  So, go to confession!
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Here is my brother and his new fiancé in front of the oldest cathedral in the United States.  Quiz:  Where are they?*

 

By the way, I understand that my brother’s fiancé is 100% Italian.  This is exciting for our family because we are mostly German and Norwegian, with a little Dutch sprinkled on top.

But the Dutch part is very important, as I will never forget my Grandfather explaining his heritage and last name.  “You see, Kim, our last name used to be ‘Van Dubbelden’ in the Old Country, but now it’s Dubbelde, which is a little more American.  But don’t you ever forget,” and here he stopped, looked me straight in the eye, pointed his finger at me, and said, “If ya ain’t Dutch, ya ain’t much!

Well, I’m glad I’m Dutch.  But, I look forward to having an Italian in the family.  I love their wine.  (After all who ever heard of a Dutch wine?  Or a Norwegian wine?)

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Cheers!  From my husband.

 

*Answer:  St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.  Not built by the Dutch or the Italians, but by the French of course.

Life is Worth Living

This is How You Sell a House?!

The night before our open house a few days ago, Child #3 chucked a chair down the stairwell and this is what happened:

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See the nice hole?

Now, I’d like to say that I handled this situation well, but that would be a lie.  We were frantically trying to clean for this open house, and it was stressful.  So I cried, but I didn’t yell.  And that’s an improvement for me.  This particular child felt badly enough.  I didn’t need to make him feel worse.

What was one to do?  There was clearly a visible hole in my wall.  Well, I did three things:

  1. I called my adept father-in-law, as my husband was at work, and asked if he might want to fix a hole in the wall?  Of course he did.  He came right over.
  2. I was making supper, so I stopped all necessary prep-work and popped a bottle of wine.  All situations improve with a glass of wine.
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You know, there’s a reason why Jesus turned a bunch of huge stone jars from water to wine.  It just tastes better.  And life gets brighter.

After all, God is going to sell this house in His own good time, with or without holes in the walls.  I might as well relax a little bit.

3.  I blasted out Louis Armstrong.  My absolute favorite song of his is When You’re Smiling.  Click HERE for it.  Just listen to that trumpet solo!  It’s at 2:20 in the video.  Now if that doesn’t put a gal in a better mood, I’m not sure what will.

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When Armstrong was asked what religion he was, he’d apparently answer, “I was raised Baptist.  I wear the Star of David.  And I’m friends with the Pope.”  Hmmm…
Life is Worth Living

You took 7 kids on vacation?!

Yes, we did.

Are you nuts?!

Yes, we are.

My husband and I decided we needed to get outta Dodge, as the saying goes.  (Where did that saying come from?  Anyone know?)  And of course, we wanted to go south, where it’s warmer.  So naturally, we went to South Dakota.

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Mount Rushmore.  Tourist Trap.  But one has to see it, right?

The Black Hills

We stayed in a beautiful cabin at Newton Fork Ranch.  Long ago we gave up on hotels, because with our big family hotels are impractical.  Cabins, on the other hand, are great because they can provide multiple bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen.  Kitchens are a must, as one does not want to take 7 children out to eat very often.

This cabin was the highlight of our trip for the children because it sat right on the side of forested “mountain” complete with a trickling stream.  They all insisted that their favorite part of the whole trip was throwing sticks and rocks into that stream and climbing that mountain.  In fact, they made both my husband and I do just that – throw sticks and rocks and hike the hill, which I found rather difficult and somewhat frightening.

Prairie Berry Winery

My favorite part of the trip was stopping at Prairie Berry Winery and drinking wine.  This place, thankfully, is kid friendly.  It even has a table set up for checkers, which my children played.  And we only had a few gaping stares from others as we traipsed in and sat down.  One bold woman remarked,  “Looks like you got your hands full!”  To which I promptly laughed and replied, “Yes, which is why we’re here!”  And I lifted my half empty bottle of wine up for her to see.

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The name of this particular wine is Lawrence Elk, which I thought was funny.  Anyone ever watch reruns of that old show, Lawrence Welk?  You do know that he was born in North Dakota, right?  All good things come from the NoDak.

I’m not really sure that these wines should be called wine, however.  Many of them are made from anything but grapes.  The Lawrence Elk, for example, is made from currants.  It tastes like sparkling Kool-Aid.  It was very refreshing after hiking a few miles though.  (My husband condescended to drink a glass of it.  He gave the rest of the bottle to me.)

Chapel in the Hills

My second favorite part of the trip was the tour my aunt and uncle gave us of the Norwegian Chapel in the Hills.  My aunt and uncle were once the caretakers of this place for many years, but they came out of retirement just for us.  They’re the best.

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Really, you need to visit this place.  Great history to this once-upon-a-time Catholic Norwegian church.

This chapel is an exact replica of the Borgund Stave Church in Norway built in 1050 and still standing.  So, if you can’t get to Norway, go the Black Hills and tour this one built in 1969.  Of course my children liked the sliding partition for the lepers to receive Holy Communion the best.

I asked my eldest daughter what she learned from the tour, and she exclaimed, “Your aunt said that there’s no such thing as white hair.  She said that she has blonde hair, not white hair, and I’m not supposed to let anyone tell me differently.  Mom, you’ll always have blonde hair too, I suspect.”

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Here we are organized.  My aunt is in the middle.  Notice her “blonde” hair.

As an aside, my aunt is also wearing bright red lipstick.  (She is my grandmother’s daughter after all.)  She kissed every one of my boys on the cheek.  She laughed and laughed, as they all ran to the van, desperately looking for baby wipes to get that lipstick off saying, “Ewwww, gross!”

Michelson Trail

And finally, we all greatly enjoyed the Michelson Trail.  This was once an old railway that ran through the Black Hills.  Now it’s a multipurpose, gravel hiking trail.  My husband and I have biked on it before, so we thought we’d take the children and explore a different section.  We found a five-mile stretch that began a few miles out of Hills City and was all downhill.  So my husband dropped me and the four older children off and met us at the end.

At first it was glorious.  The sun was shining.  The trees were glistening.  A stream ran alongside us.  Then, it was terrifying.  Gentle mountainside gave way to steep, scary cliffs.      There were no guard rails.  My children squealed in glee at the enormous canyons below.  They pointed out distant deer while the wind whipped through their hair, and we flew at a fearful pace.  Visions of wipe outs and falling children splattering on rocks below absolutely terrorized me.  I prayed to their guardian angels.  I asked St. Michael to protect them.  I begged Holy Mary to wrap her mantle around them.

And we made it.

I do not, let me repeat, do not recommend that section of the trail for children!  Nope.  If you have children, stick closer to Hill City.

But boy, oh boy was that ride breathtaking!  It even ran through the mountain in two places.  Those tunnels were awesome.

Motherhood & Parenting

Insomnia Bites

I was asked the other day if I suffer from insomnia?  Uh, yes.  From time-to-time anyway, and it’s terrible.  I’d say that it sucks, but that’s not proper language for a sophisticated blog.  So I’ll just say that it’s terrible.

I never used to have a problem sleeping.  Anybody remember those college days of setting the alarm clock for 10am?  And sleeping all the way through the night, until 10am?  Yeah, that’s a little pathetic, but you get the idea.

Then I got married and started having children.  Like a lot of children.  And the older I get, the less sleep I get, and not just because the baby wants to nurse and the 5-year-old wet the bed and the 2-year-old just feels like screaming.  Nope, with this last pregnancy especially, I was just plain wide awake at all hours of the dark, dark night.

There is nothing more frustrating than getting all the children asleep and realizing that one has only a few precious hours wherein to sleep and then not being able to sleep. Oh, the agony!

If any of you find yourself in this situation, I’ll give you a few ideas that seem to work for me.  But remember, everyone is different, so these tips may or may not work for you.  (Shoot, they don’t always work for me either.)

4 Tips for Surviving Insomnia

1. Watch what you’re doing those two hours before bedtime.

If I’m stressed out, running around, or worrying about everything I didn’t get done, you bet I’m going to be wide awake at night.  This is why it’s very important for me to relax in the evening.  I need to forget about the load of laundry sitting in the dryer and the sticky mess on my kitchen floor.  Rather, it’s time for me to sit down, have a glass of wine, and play a hand of Gin Rummy with my husband.

2.  Eat well.

I always feel better when I’ve attempted to eat well during the day.  You know, like pass on the potato chips and have a bowl of plain yogurt with blueberries instead.

3.  Exercise.

Every day I try to get outside and go for a walk or a run.  It’s amazing what just 20 minutes will do for a gal.  And yes I said outside, even in the cold, cold North.  Bundle up!  The reason I prefer outside to a machine indoors is because of the quiet.  Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m walking down the road outside by myself.  And I always feel better at the end of the day knowing my body moved around a bit.

4.  Just get out of bed and go pray or read.

This one is so difficult for me, but when I do it, I almost always come back to bed and fall asleep.  Instead of lying in bed, staring at the clock, and thinking Oh, I just need to sleep!  The baby’s going to wake up in 45 minutes, and I have so much to do tomorrow.  Why, oh why can’t I just fall asleep!  I just get up and go tell Jesus about it.  I grab my robe, stumble out to the living room, and sit before our icon of the Sacred Heart and pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet.  I don’t turn any lights on either.

I also have a couple favorite Psalms that I like to pray, which come from the Office of Compline.  (Click HERE for it on Amazon.)  From Psalm 134, “In the silent hours of the night, bless the Lord!”  And from Psalm 91, “Night holds no terrors for me sleeping under God’s wings.”

In the end though, Jesus knows, and he cares.  Really.  And this too shall pass, or so I tell myself.

Motherhood & Parenting

I’m A Bad Patient

When I’m pregnant, I’m a bad patient.  Let me give you an example of what I mean.  The following is a pretty accurate account of how my prenatal appointments begin.

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Pregnant Mother.  Not me.  I could only hope to look this glamorous.

Beginning of Prenatal Appointment

A nurse enters the room and after checking my vitals, she routinely asks me, “Have you been taking your prenatal vitamins?”

“Nope.”

Glancing at me suspiciously, “And, why not?”

“They make me constipated,” I lie.  I just don’t like taking them.

“I see.  Have you had any alcoholic drinks during this pregnancy?”

“Yes.”

Clearing her throat, “How many, would you say, a week?”

“One or two.”

Incredulously, “And do you smoke, too?”

“No, but my grandma did with all 8 of her pregnancies, does that count?”

(Naw, I didn’t really say that; I just thought it.  I’m probably going to burn in hell.)

What the Point?

Now why would I say all that–the not taking prenatal vitamins and then willfully drinking a glass of wine during a pregnancy?  It’s not that I’m anti-vitamins, for I do think many people benefit from taking them, especially if their diets are lacking certain nutrients.  And it’s not that I think everyone should enjoy a glass of wine while pregnant either.

It’s just that for me, not having the one and occasionally enjoying the other make me a happier wife and mother.  We do not all have to be the same, for we are all wonderfully different.

As an aside, I did take prenatal vitamins with my first pregnancy, and maybe my second, out of fear.  I thought that if I didn’t, my baby would be born without a limb or missing half her brain or something.  Well, I’ve had six other children since then without vitamins, and they’re all very normal.

As for drinking a glass of wine, I’m just thankful that some doctors actually see the benefit of this.  Again, it’s not that I think it’s for everyone, but for me, one glass here or there has only ever done me good.

The Appointment Goes On

Back at my typical appointment, I further the dismay of everyone when I refuse the DTAP vaccine and the flu shot and regularly skip my appointments, especially at the end, when I’m asked to come in weekly.

Now if I had any real problems or concerns, of course I wouldn’t skip my appointments.  But weekly?  This is just too much.  Not only do I not want to step on their scale one more time, but how can anyone find time for this?  No, I have other priorities.  If I’m going to take time away from my children, it’s not going to be to sit in a waiting room for an hour.   I’m going to have coffee with a friend.  Or lunch with my husband.  Or anything else, if I can help it.

And that DTAP vaccine?  It’s not that I’m against vaccines.  It’s that I had that vaccine with my last pregnancy, and I don’t feel comfortable receiving it again in less than two years.  So, no.

And the flu shot?  I had Influenza A one year while pregnant, and yes, it’s really terrible, but I don’t like putting stuff in my body that’s not absolutely necessary for survival.  So again, nope.  I’ll take my chances.

But please don’t misunderstand me, if you like receiving shots, that’s just fine with me.  For as I said above, we are all wonderfully different and free to choose what works best for us.

My poor doctor though.  He puts up with a lot.  I guess I’m just a bad patient.

 

Life is Worth Living

Welcome Home!

How fun does this look?  Man, I’m a good wife.  Sometimes.

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Here he is, my husband.  He just walked in the door.

He loves it when I greet him with a drink and a smile.

Are you in the habit of greeting your spouse, when he or she arrives home?  If not, you should try it sometime.  Maybe it could be a Lenten sacrifice, especially if you’re not in the habit of doing so?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click HERE for an explanation.

Call Me Catholic, Life is Worth Living

A Day in the Life of a Crazy Fool: Part 8

This is it.  The final part of this series and my day.  If you’ve missed the earlier parts, look to my sidebar under “Tags,” and click on A Day in the Life Series.

7pm Rosary

Around 7pm, my husband calls all the children to Rosary Time.  Now I would love to paint a pretty picture of this.  You know, with all the children gleefully running to pray as a peaceful, harmonious family, but that would be a Big Fat Lie.

No, I must be honest.  Generally at least one child is grumbling about it all.  “NO!  I want to play legos!”  Or, in a really whiny voice, “Aw, Daaaad, I just sat down to read this book.”  Or, even better yet, utter disregard and aloofness–the children ignore us and go on wrestling.

Sigh.  But we keep at it.  After all, it’s worth it.

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Here’s where the day began with Morning Prayer, and here’s where it ends with Rosary and Compline.

In any case, the five older children each lead a decade while I hold the baby and the toddler roams around the room, distracting everyone.  (She is really cute and hard not to look at.)  And we trust that Mary understands.

After the rosary, the children retire to the basement to pick up their toys and get ready for bed, and my husband and I pray the Office of Compline.  (Click HERE for a look at what we use.  It’s excellent.)  When we’re finished with this, it’s usually around 8pm, and my husband ventures downstairs to give the children blessings.

8pm “Bedtime”

Now I do not put the children to bed.  I’ve been around them all day, and I’m done.  When my husband gives them blessings, that’s it.  We do not make this a great production.  For we’re not about to waste our whole evening cajoling and persuading our children to be quiet and go to bed.  Nope.  No bedtime stories, no lying in bed with them, no nothing.  They’ve been read to and sang to and attended to all day long.

So, they’ve taken it upon themselves to tell nighttime stories and sing songs and all the rest.  It’s really quite sweet.  And we don’t care if they’re all snuggled up on the Eldest’s bed, listening to her tell a Tall Tale, so long as they don’t come upstairs.

This may sound harsh to some, but it’s what works for us.

My husband and I enjoy this time from about 8pm to 10pm as a time for us to be together.  Many nights we enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail and play a game of Gin Rummy or Cribbage.  Sometimes we just talk.  Sometimes we read aloud to one another.  Sometimes we watch a movie.

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Tonight it’s cocktails.  Manhattan on the left.  Cosmopolitan on the right.

Life is just too short to not enjoy your spouse.  If you’ve been in the habit of staring at your technology and ignoring your spouse, quit it!  And find time to be together.

For as the Venerable Fulton Sheen reminds us, “Life is worth living.”