“If you ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it... But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.

~Frank Lloyd Wright

Monday, September 15, 2014

Peach-Pear Crisp!

So, I had these delicious recipes for two different kinds of mouth-watering fruit sorbet... and I was going to post them in August when it was still hot summer weather, but then I'm not sure what happened... They never did make it onto the blog, and next time I noticed it was acting like fall outside.  So instead, I've got a nice, warm, autumn-ish recipe for you today. :)

The perfect thing to eat on a chilly fall day.  Trust me, this is sooooo good.  I LOVE the combination of peaches and pears together, to me it was much tastier than just peach crisp.  (And this recipe is gluten-free and super healthy, to top it all off!)  You should definitely give it a try. :)

4 to 5 medium peaches, sliced
2 cups of pear slices (I apologize for the weird measurement here, the original recipe was for 2 cups of blueberries, so I was just replacing that.  I can't remember how many pears I ended up using...)
2 tablespoons coconut sugar or pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1/4 cup brown rice flour (you can really use any kind of gluten-free flour here, I ended up using sorghum flour)
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup melted coconut oil or butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

(EDIT: I'm not sure what happened but somehow when this was posted I left out several of the topping ingredients and put down the wrong amounts for a few things. :/ I have triple checked now though and this is correct. Sorry about that. :P)

Cooking Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375˚F.  Set out an 8x8-inch glass baking dish.

To make the filling, add all the ingredients to the baking dish and gently toss together.

To make the topping, place the rolled oats, brown rice flour, arrowroot powder, cinnamon, and sea salt into a bowl and mix well to combine.  Ad the melted coconut oil and maple syrup and stir together. Crumble the topping over the fruit.

Bake the crisp for about 40 minuets.  Serve warm.

Yield: about 6-8 servings 

(with slight modifications, this recipe was taken from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook)

Yep.  The brothers enjoyed it.  I seriously could've eaten the whole thing by myself though. ^_^  

Alright, now that I've made myself very hungry right now, and the crisp was finished yesterday of course, I will depart and go study for a physics quiz before bed.  Hope everyone's week is off to a good start!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sometimes God just says, "I've got a different plan."

I have some stories to share with you people this week...  My first college class, Physics as a dual enrollment student at the local community college, has been giving me some, well – interesting – adventures. xP

Firstly, on Monday I forgot it was Monday and that I had my physics class in the afternoon. *facepalm* I remembered 20 min. before class was supposed to start, just as I was calmly finishing my lunch. And the drive is 25 min.  And I was a sight, having thought in my mind that I wasn't going anywhere that afternoon.  ^_^  So immediately: panic mode. I had to grab my notebook and purse, get the car keys, and try to brush my hair and make myself look tolerably respectable, all as I flew out the door.

I was not a happy camper driving to class that day. Nope.  I mean, I had all my school work finished early, and I had been cheerfully planning out in my mind all the great, productive things I could do with my afternoon, like finishing college apps and such, when suddenly – Boom. I find myself in the car driving to a physics class and lab that will occupy my entire afternoon.  And I'm going to be late.  Not. Fun. :/


Tuesday rolled by just fine, but then Wednesday it's time for physics again. This time I'm ready. I've taken a shower, put on a nice outfit, gotten my stuff together – I'm all calm and collected and proud of myself. I'm showing up early to class today, no walking in when the professor's already talking and getting those stares!

Slight hitch right as I'm leaving – I remember that I brought the car home on an empty tank of gas last time I drove.  But no problem, I'll take my mom's car. :)  Everything's going fine, I'm going to be on time, I've got this, baby.

But then God says maybe not.  As I drive down our nice bumpy dirt road, and turn left where I'm supposed to, I notice the brake feels funny. Almost like it's not working. I push down hard on it. Oh my gosh the brake doesn't do anything!!!  I can't drive on busy roads without brakes!!!!!  (Just maybe a little bit serious. Just a little.) (And in case you haven't experienced it, this is like the scariest thing ever to discover. O_o)

(And did I mention that it is completely pouring cats and dogs in the meantime, so no chance of me leaving the car and walking back to my house.) Thus I had to use my ingenuity and get the car turned around, and driven back home, all without brakes. Skillzzz my friends. xP

So I run into the house, snag the other car's keys and frantically ask my mom where I can stop for gas on the way, since there are seriously NO gas stations anyway along my route and the tank is like completely empty. ^_^

Finally I'm whizzing off to the station up in town, a little bit out of the way, fuming once again.  And the sky is still sending down a deluge, which slows down driving the whole way there and makes me all wet, even with an umbrella, as I run into class.

However, I did arrive at the room slightly earlier than on Monday, and there were a lot of people later than me, so I counted that as a win.

But it was just so totally not how I planned it.  When I thought I had everything under control, I discovered that I didn't. I can't always control the brakes of a car. I can't control all the little things that make life run smoothly.  God has the controls to my life.  And I just can't forget that.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

And let the new school year roll in...

*shamefacedly peeps around corner* *waves a timid hello*

Yes, it's actually me.

I know, it's been a really long time...  I've sadly neglected my blog for the past – um, I guess it really has been – months?  It's not that I haven't had things to write about this summer.  I have pictures galore from various excursions that could easily have merited a post.  I have recipes to share with you.  I have deep thoughts on being who we are called to be.  I've even starting writing several posts, but they never were completed.  

(one of the summer excursions...)
It's just...well...frankly, I guess I just haven't felt like blogging.  The summer made me lazy, it seems. :P (But I have been trying to read Les Mis, guys, and that's a big project that takes total concentration. xP Really and truly.)  And now I have actually been doing school for a week and half.

Senior year.  Whooaaa.  That's seems really hard to believe sometimes, but I'm getting used to the idea. My classes are looking to be epic, so I'm getting ready for an awesome year. :)

But at the same time, it's kind of hard right now too when I hear from friends who have headed off to college.  Andrea from my debate club has started freshman year at Franciscan University, and man, I miss her so much right now.  And, ok I admit it – I'm a bit jealous.  Everything sounds so amazing there, she says there is actually a chapel in her dorm on the floor below! Now how cool is that.  And from some places in the building there are breath-taking views of the hills, the Ohio river, and West Virginia on the other side.  She's met awesome people all the way from Alaska to Florida, and they even had a dance on the first weekend she was there.

*big sigh*  I'm so happy for her, but it makes it hard to realize that I have a whole year more of high school before I can head off to that illustrious realm of college.

It is a little comforting that I am going to get to visit Andrea at Steubie this fall.  I totally can't wait for that!!! <3

But in the meantime, I really have to reconcile myself to my situation in life.  I'm not in college yet.  I'm not supposed to be. God wants me home with my family right now, working on all those college apps and prepping for the ACT.  And if I just embrace that, and don't constantly wish I was somewhere else doing something different, I can receive so many graces and advance so far on the path to sanctity in just the simple, little ways.

Praying for you all, my dear readers, as we embark on this new school year. ♥♥♥

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Concerning Hobbits and Growing Up

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy small, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”



Imagine this: a person starts reading The Hobbit, gets as far as the end of the first chapter, is completely disgusted that Bilbo is going to leave his lovely, comfortable, wonderful home to go on a supposed “adventure” with some silly dwarves, and puts the book down, not to pick it up again for years and years.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  Well let me tell you something ­– that person who did that was me.  Really and truly. 

Let’s just say, because it’s true, that when I started to read the Hobbit many years ago, I was a vastly different person than I am now. 

I liked homey sorts of things, and the idea of staying in one place, in a comfortable delightful house like Bad End, with lots of food and simple happy living, really struck a chord with me.  I liked the descriptions of the hobbits and fell in love with their way of living and the Shire. (Not ot say that I don't like these things now, I love them dearly, but I've learned how important it is to leave your comfort zone and endure hardships too.)

I was the kind of girl who at that time had created an imaginary world – a world consisting of an island in the Altantic Ocean, with slightly primitive yet very civilzed people who lived simply and in close conjunction with nature.  No electricity or modern machines, but just the simple beautiful life.  That sort of thing was very dear to my heart. 

And so now imagine me reading The Hobbit, and how I must have felt when I discovered that Bilbo was going to leave all the gloriousness of the Shire and comfy hobbit holes and go off into the unknown to help some dwarves get back their good-for-nothing gold from a wicked dragon.  I was, well, disappointed... and decided I just didn't want to read any more of that book just then. 


When I finally did come back to The Hobbit, it was after the first of its three-part movie adaptions came out.  With all the fuss raging about this story, and the fact that my mom doesn’t let me see movies of really good books unless I’ve read the book first, I decided it was time to read that thing.  So I did.  And I thought it was great, loved it, and was definitely glad that Bilbo hadn’t stayed at home because that would have made a very uninteresting story.  But I didn’t spend a lot of time pondering meanings behind things in the book, or really discussing it in depth with anyone. 

Until one day, a book sitting on our kitchen counter caught my attention.

Bilbo’s Journey: discovering the hidden meaning of the hobbit by Joseph Pearce

I picked it up and flipped to the first chapter: Bilbo’s Pilgrimage. 
“At its deepest level of meaning…The Hobbit is a pilgrimage of grace, in which its protagonist, Bilbo Baggins, becomes grown-up in the most important sense, which is the growth in wisdom and virtue.  Throughout the course of his adventure – and every pilgrimage is an adventure – the hobbit develops the habit of virtue and grows in sanctity.  Thus The Hobbit illustrates the priceless truth that we only become wise men when we realize that we are pilgrims on a purposeful journey through life.” 
Suffice it to say that my interest was very much awakened.
“…The Hobbit parallels The Lord of the Rings in the mystical suggestiveness of its treatment of Divine Providence, and serves as moral commentary on the words of Christ that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).  In these… aspects, it can truly be said of The Hobbit, as Tolkien said of The Lord of the Rings, that it is “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work. 
“On one level, Bilbo’s journey from the homely comfort of the Shire to the uncomfortable lessons learned on the Lonely Mountain, in parallel with Frodo’s journey from the Shire to Mount Doom, is a mirror of Everyman’s journey through life… We are meant to see ourselves reflected in the character of Bilbo Baggins and our lives reflected in his journey from the Shire to the Lonely Mountain.”

I was completely struck.  I had never thought of The Hobbit in this way before. That Bilbo’s journey was like the journey of life, the journey that everyone must make.  I immediately thought of how silly it had been for me to be mad at Bilbo for leaving his home!  The adventure was necessary for him, it enabled to grow up and become a much better person.  It was extremely selfish to want him to just be occupied with his own affairs and not care about the dwarves’ business at all.  In fact, that is what the book went on to say:
“The Hobbit begins with Bilbo’s desire for comfort and his unwillingness to sacrifice himself for others.  His heart is essentially self-centered, surrounding itself with the treasure of his own home, an ironic and symbolic prefiguring of Smaug’s surrounding himself with treasure in his “home” in the Lonely Mountain.  Bilbo, on a microcosmic scale, is, therefore, nothing less than a figure and prefigurement of Smaug the dragon.  He is a afflicted with the dragon sickness.  His pilgrimage to the Lonely Mountain is the means by which he will be cured of this materialist malady.  It is a via dolorosa, a path of suffering, the following of which will heal him of his self-centeredness and teach him to give himself self-sacrificially to others.”
Wow.  Bilbo was actually afflicted with the dragon sickness, and when I was little I had wanted him to just stay at home and suffer from it.  That sounds pretty awful, doesn’t it? :P  I was now awakened to the foolishness of a lot of those earlier day-dreams and could see a glimpse of the truth, beauty, and meaning behind Tolkien’s writing. 

The little bit of this book that I was able to read before my brother took it back to college with him opened my eyes to some very important truths.  I had some “reality” thrown into my dreamland.  I begin to see, more clearly than before, how important suffering was. How it was necessary to have obstacles in your life so you could overcome them on your way to eternity, and how good those things actually are.  So this commentary on The Hobbit planted the seed, but then what really strengthened it and caused the seed to blossom was reading The Lord of the Rings. 

The Lord of the Rings taught me to really grow up.  It showed me courage and bravery in a whole new light. It showed me Sam and Frodo, struggling against incredible odds to accomplish a deed that seemed impossible. It showed me how “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”  It showed me the rewards for perseverance and not giving up.     It showed me incredible characters that I could imitate. It called me step out of myself and start taking risks.  To leave my comfort zone. “To become who you were born to be.”  It urged me to stand up for what's right. “There’s a lot of good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”
"We all face our daily dragons and we must all defend ourselves from them and hopefully slay them.  The sobering reality is that we must either fight the dragons that we encounter in life or become dragons ourselves.  There is no "comfortable" alternative."   ~ Bilbo's Journey

I owe a lot to J.R.R. Tolkien.  And Joseph Pearce.  They have both shown me so much, and helped me to grow in ways I could never have imagined before.  Courage and trials inspire me so, so much now.  I have a stronger appreciation for the deeper things of life – the real things.  Like when I was watching The Scarlet and the Black the other night for the second time. Man, all those WWII stories just blow you away. When you find out at the end, that Colonel Kappler, the Nazi Gestapo, actually converted to the Catholic faith after Fr. O'Flaherty was his only visiter in prison... It's amazing.  I love being inspired by those kinds of things now, and I have Tolkien to thank for opening up the doors for me.  For showing me how important it is to leave your comfort zone and get out and do things.
"The wizard's unexpected arrival is connected to his desire to wake Bilbo up from his cozy slumbers.  In doing so, he also wakes us up from ours. It is for this reason that he wishes to send Bilbo on an adventure, which, he informs the hobbit, will be "very good for you–and profitable too, very likely, if you ever get over it." Bilbo is not convinced.  He has "no use for adventures," which are "uncomfortable things."  Little does he know it, but the fact that adventures are uncomfortable is the very reason for their usefulness. Gandalf wants to remove Bilbo from his comfort zone so that the hobbit can experience reality in its full and expansive richness.  Bilbo needs to venture beyond his home, which is an extension of his self, in order to experience the truth that is beyond himself and grow in the space that it provides.  In short, the purpose of Gandalf's visit is to help Bilbo grow-up."   (Bilbo's Journey) 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Making Memories (vol. 1)

I really think that is what summer should be for.  Memories of good times with the people we love, of new places traveled to, of inspiring beauty, of joyous laughter, of hard work well done.  And I've been incredibly blessed to be able to make a lot of these kind of memories so far this summer.

It makes me think of when Frodo told Sam, "You have so much to enjoy and to be, and to do." That's what I felt like, going into summer. I really do have so much to enjoy and to be and to do.

So I'm sorry that my blog has been pushed to the background, but that has to happen every once in a while and I really feel like that break was very good for me. Now I'm popping up out of my hole, back into the blogging world again. And so much has happened I don't even know where to start.

I've gone to two different (very different) summer camps, and the one at Christendom College was probably the best week of my life.

That summer program was absolutely amazing. Peregrin wrote a fantastic post about the week that you should all hop over and read if you haven't yet.  She just knows how to word things perfectly. ♥♥  And it was so lovely to meet her and have fun together at Christendom. :)

There were so many things about that week that I just want to treasure for the rest of my life. 

I'll always remember...

- the fantastically amazing and super fun counselors 
- the wonderful people I got to meet
- the bowling fun our first night, and the ice cream
- discussing the philosophical question: Can a dog be happy? with the most amazing professor ever
- winning $5 from said professor for identifying a nighthawk swooping through the air at a barn dance
- jamming to Lotr music along Skyline Dr. in a crowded van with Peregrin 
- hiking to the top of a mountain for some astounding views
- trading and sharing clothes with fellow girls right and left -– coming from a girl with no sisters, let me just say that living with a bunch of girls for a week was just so delightful :)
- singing the beautiful Prayer of St. Augustine for the talent show with my three lovely friends from Michigan 
- canoeing on the Shenandoah river
- swing dancing in an 1800's barn to jolly Irish tunes
- THE VIRGINIA REEL...it does not deserved anything less than caps... most fun thing ever
- daily Mass and adoration in the chapel
- choir practice every day, and the chance to sing such beautiful hymns in the chapel for our last Mass
- amazing classes with amazing professors: literature, history, philosophy, theology – I can't even say which was my favorite
- late night conversations with my awesome roommates
- listening to the coolest debate ever, put on by the Chester-Belloc debate society one night, with everything reminding me of Chesterton's time and just blown away by the awesomeness of it all
- having SO much fun at the talent show, laughing oh so hard – that was one of the best nights, and it even ending with dancing before we went and crashed into bed
- and then the Friday night dance in the Commons that was even decked out with lights, where everyone knew how to dance so much better than earlier in the week
- having a Rosary-candlelight procession late at night
-sitting around the bonfire the last night, toasting marshmallows and listening to touching spiels from counselors
- staying up till 3:30 a.m., signing dog-books and savoring some of the last moments we would have together

The Irish sing-alongs we had were totally fantastic: these songs below bring back so many fond memories. And singing them in a barn with fiddles and a real Irish dancer, and swaying together in lines as we belt out the chorus... I'm missing those times so much now.  Do I need to say that I've become really, really in love with Irish music?

This is the awesomely-hilarious head counselor we all enjoyed so much. :)

And look who's here!  It's the promised picture of Peregrin and I (with one other friend, Rose, on the left. :))

As a skit for the talent show, I performed John Branyan's Shakespearean three little pigs, which was a lot of fun.

thank you to Peregrin for these last two pictures :)

The Friday night swing dance, view from the balcony of the Commons.  Isn't it just gorgeous? 

The whole thing was truly an experience I'll never forget.  Ever.