Monday, April 14, 2014

Final Week of the Lenten Meal Plan Linkup: Easy Salmon Burgers with Wasabi Mayo

Well, we did it. This is the last week of Lent. Come Sunday, we can eat meat every single day for the rest of the year.

(Just kidding. It's a good idea to eat less meat, you know.)

The final edition of our meatless meal linkup at Beth Anne's Best and Two O's Plus More is waiting to help you figure out what to eat for your last Lenten meal of the year on Good Friday. Be sure to check the Meatless Meals Pinterest board, too, for the master collection of all the ideas that have been shared this season.

My recipe today is a simple one. It's adapted from my mom's crabcake recipe and uses pretty standard pantry ingredients (with the possible exception of wasabi paste). If you don't do a lot of Asian cooking, you might not have this on hand, but it is pretty readily found in the Asian food section of most grocery stores. (If we have it in my corner of rural Virginia, I bet you can find it, too.)

This recipe serves 4 adults (but works for my family of 2 adults and 3 small kids).

What you'll need:

For the salmon patties-
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can of salmon, drained, bones and skin discarded
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 1 tsp minced ginger (can use fresh grated ginger if you can't find the minced kind)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • oil for frying (I like sesame oil for this.)
For the wasabi mayonnaise-
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp wasabi paste...more if you like it spicy!

What you'll do:

  • Whisk the egg lightly in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Add salmon, bread crumbs, 1 Tbsp mayonnaise, soy sauce, minced garlic, minced ginger and green onions. Stir together until combined.
  • Form into patties. (You can dust the outsides of the patties with additional bread crumbs, if you'd like.)
  • Brush a large skillet with cooking oil to coat. Fry patties until one side is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Carefully flip with spatula and fry on the other side until done, about 4-5 more minutes.
  • Add 2 Tbsp wasabi paste to 1/2 cup mayonnaise in a small bowl, using a fork to combine. Add more wasabi as needed to strengthen the flavor.
We serve our salmon burgers on whole-wheat buns with the wasabi mayo as a spread and other toppings (like spinach or grated carrots) as desired. Our kids like them with ketchup instead of the wasabi mayo. You can also serve without the buns and use the mayo as a dipping sauce on the side. They're also really, really good with sweet potato fries.

Enjoy- and thanks for sharing your meatless recipes with us this Lent as part of our linkup.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

#HolyLens: Prompts for Holy Week

It's finally here...Holy Week. The last week of our journey together this Lent. I've grown from seeing the world through your eyes (and your images) in the past six weeks. I hope you've found this project a helpful way to focus on some of the holy beauty that is present every day in our ordinary lives.

This week, our prompts run from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. Please share these prompts in your circles and encourage people to join us, even if they haven't participated before now. Holy Week is a wonderful time to practice seeing the sacred in our everyday lives as we prepare for Easter.

Here are the prompts:

Keep sharing your wonderful photos on Instagram and other social media, but also feel free to link up your favorite photos here in the linkup below. You can share any photos from this Lent as well as the photos you take this week leading up to Easter.

Thank you for your participation and support of this project. I'm grateful for each of you who have spent time with us this Lent and hope you feel it was meaningful.

Have a blessed Holy Week.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Five-Minute Friday: Paint

"Do not doubt that what you share transcends how long it actually takes you to type it out." 
                                                                                                         - Lisa Jo Baker

It's Friday again, and although I used nap time today for sleeping, I still have words floating around in my head that need to come out. I'm linking up with Five-Minute Friday to write for five minutes in response to a one-word prompt. The goal isn't perfection. The goal is to share a fragment, a bit of a story, an image with the community of writers gathered there (and with you!) just because we enjoy the process of painting with words (messy painting, like preschool- not too worried about being neat to have a good time).

Today's prompt: PAINT.

It began on one of those grumpy, rainy days when there's no way to ease the frustration of the small child trapped indoors. We had done everything...baked cookies, played with blocks, read book after book after book, scattered rice from the sensory box all over that blue-diamond floor in the tiny, cramped kitchen. 
Out of options, I stripped him down to a diaper and put him in the tub with four squirts of finger paint.

He had never liked painting, not really- the texture annoyed him or the paper was too small or someone was telling him not to get it on his shirt or what color to use. This was different. Eyes wide, he dipped a finger into the paint, paused to sniff it, then smeared it cautiously on the side of the tub. He sought my face, searched it, decided my smile meant he should keep going.
Mere minutes later he was covered in paint along with the tub, all the brightness mingling with our laughter, mixing into streaks of brown and purpley-grey that ran in rivulets, pooling around the drain. 

No one should have to be afraid of paint. 

                                                             Five Minute Friday

For more Five-Minute Friday, visit Lisa-Jo Baker...and be sure to check out her new book, Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom . I haven't gotten to read it yet, but it's on my list.

(This post contains Amazon affiliate links.)


Thursday, April 10, 2014

It's an award, not a chain letter (ok, it's kind of a chain letter)

The extremely prestigious Liebster award has a muddled history. It's a way for smaller bloggers to promote each other and share the love by answering lists of each other's pressing questions. It might be kind of a chain letter, but I can't think of anything more flattering than being nominated for an award by a fellow writer I admire. Since I've been nominated twice this year, I have two lists of questions to answer.

I should be awesome at this.
I answer questions all day long. For example:

Why don't Catholics believe in Thor?
Why is that tree (in Patsy Cline's Walkin' After Midnight) sadding?
Where is my blankie?
Can I paint the walls now?
What is Saturday? (No, I know when is Saturday. I want to know what is Saturday.)
Did Jesus bleed?
Can I have more cereal?
Do you get to eat an extra marshmallow if your peepee goes into the potty?
Where are my favorite yellow socks?
Can you read this book to me?
Why won't Sammy read this book to me?
If I flip this H upside down, what letter will it be?
If you could be a planet or a dwarf planet or any celestial object, which one would you choose?

It never ends.

Happily for me, the questions asked by my blogger friends are a little different. Thank you, Rabia and Kendra, for the special recognition of this award. It's such an honor to be nominated by you!

The rules of accepting the award are as follows:
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you. (Does this need to be a rule? Would people not naturally do this? What kind of world are we living in, for heaven's sake?)
  • Answer the 11 questions of the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 bloggers you admire who have fewer than 200 followers. Or fewer than 2000 followers. Or something. This part isn't exactly clear.
  • Ask 11 of your own burning questions for your nominated bloggers to answer.

First, Kendra's questions:

1. Where do you live? And why do you live there?

I live in Luray, VA. If you live here, you have to say it "Loo-ray." Like "Hoo-ray for Loo-ray." We have lived here long enough to know that.

Luray is the kind of classic American small town where people move to raise kids. They have a duck race in the creek every spring and fireworks downtown every July 4th.We moved here when George started working as an associate pastor at one of the local churches. We didn't have kids then. It was going to be short-term. It's been 12 years. We have almost four kids now.

Life happens.

2. What are you currently watching and/or reading?

Watching: Torchwood. We ran out of episodes of Doctor Who and are trying to fill the void. Torchwood is far inferior to The Doctor, but it's not awful.

The Long Loneliness by Dorothy Day (for The Well-Read Mom, a book club I've been hosting at my home this past year)

When the Labels Don't Fit: A New Approach to Raising a Challenging Child by Barbara Propst

3. What kind of Catholic are you: cradle, or convert? (Or considering?)

I was raised Southern Baptist, made a commitment to Christ as a child and joined the Catholic Church just after college. I don't like the word "convert." All Christians are Christians, just like all ice cream is ice cream. A Buddhist who becomes a Christian is a convert. A Baptist or Presbyterian who becomes Catholic is still a Christian, just a different flavor. I think the technical term is "coming into full communion with the Catholic Church," not "converting."

4. Can you point to one moment or experience that made you a practicing Catholic? (Or want to be?)

I had a roommate in college who was (and is still) a truly loving, caring person. She lived her faith in an active, vibrant but not overly showy way. She made a big impression on me. I started doing my own research, did a lot of reading, started attending Mass at the local Catholic parish, and fell head over heels in love with the Eucharist. That is what ultimately drew me in. When I started the RCIA program at our parish, it was on an exploratory basis, but it became its own journey, and by the end, the pull of Christ in the Eucharist was just too strong for me to walk away (even if I had wanted to). It felt like coming home.

Incidentally, my former roommate makes beautiful things for her etsy shop...and she's still lovely.

5. How many pairs of shoes do you own?

14, give or take a few, but I really only wear three of them right now. I should just get rid of the heels, shouldn't I?

6. Are you a good dancer?

My kids think so. I don't generally dance in public unless I've had a glass of wine.

7. Who usually drives, you or your husband?

He does. I like to knit in the car. 

8. What's your favorite holiday and how do you celebrate it?

Christmas is my favorite holiday. We observe Advent, so we don't really start with Christmas until Christmas Eve. We usually have our Christmas at home on Christmas Eve, celebrate with a big breakfast, go to Mass that evening, and then travel to spend the night and the next few days with our extended families who live in other parts of the state.

9. Which is correct? Left or Right?

Definitely left.

10. Do you have any scars?

I have one on my left knee from falling on the blacktop at school while jumping rope in third grade. I have another one on my right thigh from falling out of a tree at my grandma's house. The tree was rotting, and I wasn't supposed to be climbing it...the branch I was sitting on broke, and down I came.

11. What's the most famous thing you've ever done?

I marched in a special parade on New Year's Eve with the JMU Marching Royal Dukes for the 700th anniversary of the Grimaldi Dynasty in Monaco. It felt like a pretty big deal, even though all the local ladies thought we were from Belgium (and one of them stomped on our banner when she found out we were Americans).

And now, Rabia's questions:

1. What is the funniest thing that has happened to you in the past week? 

You know, this week hasn't been as funny as some others. The worm incident was pretty funny, but that happened last week (I think).

2. What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Make coffee. Then drink coffee. 

3. Do you speak another language? If so, which? If not, what language would you like to learn?

I speak some Spanish, a little French, and some Signed English (not ASL). I'm learning Latin along with Sam. I'd like to be better at all of them before I took on anything else.

4. In high school were you into sports, band, choir, art, or something else?

I did band, drama and field hockey in high school.

5. If you were going to write a memoir, what would you call it?

All Will Be Well, with some catchy tagline so people wouldn't think I was just stealing from Julian of Norwich.

6. When you snack do you go for sweet, salty, fruity, or crunchy?

Sweet. Better yet, chocolate.

7. List three songs at the top of your playlist lately.

"Raspberry Beret" by Prince and the Revolution
"The Longest Time" by Billy Joel
"Restless" by Audrey Assad

8. Which of your parents do you think you are most like and why?

I think I'm a pretty good mix of them. I look a lot like my mom and I can make something out of nothing. I'm pretty driven and have a tendency to hold myself and everyone around me to very high standards, which is like my dad.

9. If you could become a character on a TV show for a week, who would you choose to be?

I'd like to travel with The Doctor, but I wouldn't really want to be any of the people who did that. Maybe Amelia Pond?

10. What is your favorite blog post that you've written?

It's hard to pick one favorite, but I really like this one.

11. Tell us something interesting going on in your life right now.

I'm trying to figure out how to pick my battles with my very independent, divergent-thinking five-year-old son. It's never boring.

And now, for my nominees:

Rosie at A Blog for My Mom
Kelley at Over The Threshold
Beth Anne at Beth Anne's Best
Bobbi at Revolution of Love
Claire at Claire Writes
Maureen at Canadian Catholic Mom
Kathleen at Becoming Peculiar
Rhonda at Naptime Novelist
Sarah at And Twins Make Four
Chris at Campfires and Cleats
Heather at Blessed and Busy

That's eleven. Some of you don't update that often, but I hope you might play along, anyway. If you don't, I guess the Liebster police are going to come get me or something.

Here are your questions, folks- I'm dying to know:

  1. What is the best meal you've ever eaten (where, with whom, relevant details...)?
  2. If you could only have 3 books to read/reread for the rest of your life, which 3 would you choose?
  3. What one habit or trait would you erase from your life?
  4. What is your favorite day of the week and why?
  5. What's your favorite quotation?
  6. Do you wear shoes in the house?
  7. What's your favorite chore and why?
  8. What one song would you like to never hear again?
  9. What one word are you most likely to misspell?
  10. If you could close your eyes and be any place in time or space when you opened them, where would you be?
  11. If you had to rename yourself, what name would you choose?
That's can post the answers on your blog if you like (and be sure to let me know- I really do want to know these things about you!).

Theme Thursday and #HolyLens: Chosen


Today's Theme Thursday is also today's #HolyLens, so I'm killing two birds with one stone (in the most non-violent, bird-loving way possible, of course, because you can't really kill birds...and if you do, you certainly can't just announce it in public like it's no big deal, like, "Hey, I just killed two birds! With one stone!").

Totally not okay.

Anyway, I'm staring at a sinkful of dirty dishes today and piles of laundry that should have already been washed and toys everywhere and floor desperately in need of vacuuming again. I'm snapping at my kids, who (in my defense) are being really testy and challenging today. I'm dreading Sam's violin lesson this evening, because I have no idea what he's going to do when we get there. Will he sit in the hall and refuse to go in? Will he be totally fine and just smile and act like he's having the time of his life? They're equally possible. Only time will tell.

In the middle of all of this, I keep's my vocation to serve these people before me, these little Christs in front of me. They need things and care and love and tending, and I'm the one to do it.

Today, meeting all the needs feels like an impossible task. I'm marveling at how someone who currently feels this overwhelmed could be chosen to be the parent to another little person-in-progress. He's the only one so far that I haven't let down. Right now, his needs are simple, and he's perfectly content. It's only a matter of time until I can't meet all of his needs so easily, either.

Why is it so hard sometimes to trust that there will be enough to go around, even if there isn't enough of me to do it all? 

He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.   
                               2 Corinthians 12:9

I'd love your prayers for strength and for peace on this beautiful day...despite the sunny spring weather, I'm a little tempest-tossed.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

TwinsDay Wednesday: Collective hysteria

I cannot overemphasize how grateful I was for the first real warm-weather day. The afternoon was made for outside play, and after being cooped up for months without much chance to hang out comfortably in our yard, my children were itching to get out and enjoy it.

They were clawing impatiently at the door as I gathered our snack to take it out to the porch, all jabbering at once about what they were going to do. The girls were particularly excited.

I'm going to ride my ladybug bike.
Well, I'm going to ride my bee bike.
Well then, I'm going to ride Sam's blue tricycle.
No, I want to ride Sam's tricycle! 
Well, you can't. Because I am riding it.
No, Lucy!
No, Nora!

I knew if I could just get them to back up enough to get the door open, they and their overexcited, angsty arguing would simply spill out into the afternoon sunshine and be blown away on the delicate breeze that was clinking the wind chimes.

As the door opened and they poured forth onto the porch, something terrible happened.

Nora saw a dead earthworm.

She might have just decided to examine it and poke it with her finger, as she does most things, had Lucy not spotted one at the exact same time and begun shrieking in terror.

Once the hysteria started, there was no turning it back. They would not step near the dead worms. They would not look at the dead worms. They covered their eyes and ran, screeching, around the carport, intermittently crashing into each other and the much-anticipated, now-forgotten ride-on toys. It was total mayhem.

Sam, ever logical where the Sisters are concerned, tried to help them. "Look, just walk around them! They're dead, they're not alive, they can't hurt you...Look, just sweep them away with your foot! Use this broom..."

And finally, "See? They aren't even slimy," and he picked one up, moving it in Lucy's general direction.

Both girls screamed as if their skin was being peeled off, as if the sight of the poor, shriveled worm had simultaneously melted all four of their eyeballs in their sockets. The sobs and shaking were unlike anything I can remember.

We had no choice but to go to the backyard, where there is lots of grass and no pavement for unfortunately drowned earthworms to mummify themselves in the sun.

There is no place for using ride-on toys, the ladybug bike and the bee bike and even the sought-after blue tricycle stayed parked.

Yesterday at lunchtime, Lucy expressed her hatred for ants ("They're disgusting,") and flies ("I never want to see one looking at me ever again- they should all get squashed right now").

Nora emphatically nodded.

We could be in for a long summer.

Monday, April 7, 2014

#HolyLens, Week Six Prompts

Greetings, intrepid Lenten photographers!

Here are the prompts for #HolyLens, Week Six. (To find the prompts for previous weeks, go here.)

There's only one week left after this one- we'll have special prompts up starting Palm Sunday for Holy Week. If you've fallen behind, it's okay to just pick up and keep going from here. If you're just joining us, welcome...we're happy to have you along.

Feel free to share these prompts and the Holy Week ones next week- it's never too late to join in.

Lenten Meal Plan Linkup, Week #6: Curried Chickpeas

Usually by this point in Lent, I'm in a beans-and-rice rut and running out of inspiration. This year, I feel like the possibilities are limitless, partly thanks to Beth Anne and her recipe-sharing linkup. This week's edition of the linkup for meatless meal ideas at Beth Anne's Best and Two O's Plus More is ready and waiting to receive your favorite meatless meal recipes. Stuck for ideas? Now is a perfect time to go check out what others have shared on the linkup and on the Meatless Meals Pinterest board

My contribution this week comes from the collection of 5 ingredients or less recipes at Stone Soup. Although not all the recipes are meatless, Jules offers great suggestions for cooking quickly and simply using what you have on hand.

Although at first I thought this was a strange combination of ingredients, I tried it one evening when we were in a hurry to get dinner on the table. It has become one of our go-to quick dinners. We almost always have canned chickpeas at our house- all of our children really like them, and they are so versatile. I put them on salads, in soups, and in curries and stews. Plus, everyone here likes hard-boiled eggs.

This recipe is so quick and easy that I can even prepare it at lunchtime (which is usually the most chaotic part of my day). It has the added bonus of being full of protein. After eating this meal, I always feel full. If you feel you need to add something else to it, you can put in canned salmon or tuna with the chickpeas, but I've never felt the need to do that.

What you'll need:
  • 6-8 eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped coarse
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (or about 2 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons of curry powder
  • 2 cans of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 bunch parsley, just the leaves, chopped (I cut mine with kitchen shears)

What you'll do:
  • Boil the eggs using your favorite method. Jules has lots of information here about her method for boiling eggs. George swears by this method. I usually just put the eggs in a pot, cover them with cold water and put them on to boil when I'm starting to cook this recipe. I set them timer for 10 minutes- the eggs start boiling at some point, the timer goes off at some point and I take the pot off the heat. When I'm ready, I run the eggs under cool water and set them aside until it's time to peel them.

(Do you have a favorite egg-boiling method? Is this something people get passionate about? I'm curious.)

  • Saute the garlic and onion until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder. Stir in the two cans of drained chickpeas and cook until warmed through, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in chopped parsley. 

  • Peel and slice the eggs and top each serving of chickpeas with 1-2 eggs. This should serve about 4 people (it feeds 2 adults and 3 children at our house with extra for second helpings). To make it stretch further or to add more veggies, you can serve it over a bed of raw spinach like a salad. 

For more variations on this recipe and for lots of other great ideas using 5 ingredients or less, visit Stone Soup. Also, be sure to check out the Meatless Meals linkup and Pinterest board this week to see what everyone else is eating this Lent.