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Holy Week:: Selah

Holy Week is drawing to a close.  I’m in two minds about it.  It’s a shame to see my favourite week of the year speed by.  On the other hand, the crescendo of the Resurrection is so compelling, so exhilarating.

I was worried that this week would be full of stumbling blocks for our family, we had scheduled every possible thing to co-incide.  But we were wise and allowed things to fall away.  We slowed our pace and worked together to complete tasks, and enjoyed the journey through the days.  Yesterday was spent preparing the krashanky while James and Joséphine napped.



William, Louis, and Sophie begin peeling onions


… and Carrie


Happily working together.


There’s still time to make your own.  Here’s how::


Collect the peels of about 10 lb. of yellow onions into a bowl:



Place them in a pot. Ours has a handy basket insert, but you don’t need to have one of those.

Children (and grown-ups) love the crunch of the dry skins…


…and helping in the kitchen.


Add 8 c. water to the pot:


and 1/4c. white vinegar


Bring to the boil, cover, and reduce to simmer for 30 minutes.


You’ll need 12-18 clean, white eggs which have been left to come up to room temperature.


Place them into a stainless steel pot in a single layer.


Strain and cool your dye to room temperature. Then pour it in over your eggs.


Make sure your eggs are completely covered. Add more cool water, if needed. Bring to the boil again and allow to simmer 12-15 minutes.


If you haven’t achieved the colour you want after 15 minutes, remove from the heat and allow to sit until you’re happy with them.


When the eggs are completely cooled, rub them with olive oil and a soft cloth or paper towels.


Pack them up nice and safe in their carton to bring to church on Holy Saturday so that they can be blessed.


We’ll be bringing our krashanky to our new parish tomorrow morning for blessing, along with Father David’s holy water bottles for Vigil.  They’ll be eaten for breakfast before heading out to the 11:30 Easter Sunday Mass, where Brian will serve.  Later in the afternoon, we will return once more to church – this time to our old parish, St. Joseph’s, where William will serve on the altar for the first time!

And somewhere in there, we’ll make time to sit down to dinner together, and reflect on the myriad graces that come to us through Christ, and His Church.  The graces we celebrate this Holy Weekend and throughout the year.

Wishing you and your family a blessed Eastertide!


Holy Week, Open the Gates!

The King of Glory comes, the nation rejoices.  Open the gates before Him, lift up your voices!

Holy Week has come.  It is the most beautiful, most exhausting week of our year.

Somehow, we’ve managed to schedule inspectors and appointments and lessons for this week in addition to all of the normal preparations.   There are still new clothes and shoes to be bought, festal foods to procure, cooking and baking to be done, holy water bottles to be filled, and traditional Holy Week cleaning to be done.   Certainly some things will, and must, fall away because no one can do all that we have scheduled.  I am forgiving myself in advance.

Holy Week home-keeping will be truncated to allow enough time for other important activities.  But I don’t want to give it up altogether because it is an important part of the fabric of the celebration in our home, which is, after all, a domestic church.  And we want to joyfully open the gates before Him and welcome Him into our home.

The physical cleaning of the home mirrors the final sweeping out of our souls in preparation to receive Him on Easter morning.  We women are blessed to have such a tangible reality to illustrate the mystical.  I offer you my prayerful Holy Week cleaning schedule, with a wish that your heart and home be blessed by the glorious presence of our Saviour and Brother today and always.

Monday: Windows

Open my eyes to see clearly the wonders of your teachings. Psalm 119:18

  • remove curtains and wash
  • vacuum and dust sashes, sills, and trim
  • wash window glass inside and out
  • tighten curtain rod screws if needed
  • replace shades if needed
  • tighten handles, locks, refresh caulking if needed


Tuesday:  Walls

May peace be within your walls, And prosperity within your palaces. Psalm 122:7

  • remove artwork and photographs, dust
  • sweep/vacuum dust and cobwebs from corners and ceiling
  • clean marks from walls
  • fill holes with patching compound, touch up paint
  • replace picture hangers if necessary


Wednesday: Doors

Lift up your heads, O gates; rise up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may enter. Psalm 24:7

  • scrub doors inside and out
  • tighten screws on hinges and other fixtures
  • check locks and jambs
  • dust around trim
  • vacuum sill


Thursday: Kitchen

Spread for me a banquet of praise, serve High God a feast of kept promises Psalm 50:14

  • clean oven and scrub cooktop
  • empty fridge and freezer, scrub
  • sort and re-organize shelves/cupboards
  • clean down small appliances, clean out coffee pot


Friday: Floors

I bow low toward your holy temple; I praise your name for your fidelity and love. For you have exalted over all your name and your promise. Psalm 138:2

  • Vacuum off furniture and under cushions, wash slipcovers
  • Move furniture and vacuum, mop, polish
  • Vacuum and remove throw rugs, hang outside to air
  • Dust and wipe down heat runs and baseboards


I am praying that I will find the quiet in my soul to absorb the richness of the liturgical celebrations.  They are a font of grace.  And they only come this time of year.  Come Easter morning, we will sing:

He conquered sin and death; he truly has risen!  And He will share with us His heavenly vision.

Blessed Holy Week, dear friends.  And a joyous Easter!

{this moment} Spring… she has arrived.


{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ at SouleMama for all to find and see.


It is well

It’s raining today.  And the weather forecast is for a week of rain.  But it is warm, thanks be to God.

Our neighbours’ daffodils are rising through the mud, and the willows have sprouted catkins.  Spring is here!  We’ve seen lots of big, fat robins and a flight of eagles passed the house yesterday.  We’re glad they didn’t stop to snack on our chickies, who have begun laying again.

The fact that there is a sudden increase in eggs must be responsible for my inspiration to make Dutch Baby for breakfast.  Three pans.  Nearly wiped out.  I’ll have to devise a plan for when the littler boys start eating like their Pa and big brother, Jack.  Or when I have hungry sons-in-law to breakfast.

In any case, it is something comforting to enjoy.  It’s a dish that feels like a hug.  Just the thing on a rainy Monday after a weekend of… well…

Our weekend was somewhat dramatic.  I cancelled a much-anticipated trip to a conference of wonderful women in Boston.  It makes me sad.  But I know that there will be other opportunities to meet them all.  Oh, how I pray there will be. Because I was so sorely disappointed.

We thought that there was going to be a problem with some of our new goats coming to the farm.  And while we were trying to work out what really was happening, we were also scrambling to come up with a Plan B.  Sleep was lost, gray hairs were created.  And all for nought.  Because, in our very human way, we forgot to remember that God has all in hand.

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well” – St. Julian of Norwich

And then the telephone rang this morning.  It was the APR office wanting to set up our initial inspection, and to clear up some details about our final plans.  I became totally flustered.  I was sure I was going to say something stupid.  But Brian was right there and assured me that I was being stupid about sounding stupid.  And that I just need to relax.  Because I do.

And this weekend was also filled with good things.  Hopeful things.  Productive things.

Brian met with our new pastor on Friday (watch for Brian’s post).  We will be serving two beautiful parishes – St. Mary and Sacred Heart.  It represents quite a change for us, coming from such a large parish.  But one that we welcome with arms wide open.  The rest of us are looking forward to meeting Father David, and our new Church family this coming weekend.

Yesterday, we worked together on our plans for the alfalfa fields, and on the pastures.  How many tons of lime we need to spread this year for the fields to be ready for seed next year.  And how much diatomaceous earth to put on the pastures, and which herbs to include in our pasture mix for healthy, happy goats and sheep.  Inquiries have been made and answered about pigs, and turkeys, and tractors, and post-hole diggers and…  Things are beginning to come together.

We’ve been searching for a large RV to camp out in while restorations and other preparations are being made to the farm.  This appears to be the time of year to be looking.  Hopefully, we’ll find one that will sleep all of us.  And God willing, the temperatures will stay mild.  Wish us luck.

And soon it will be time to give away those things we no longer need, and to move our remaining belongings to storage so that we can clean up and rent out our little house.  Poor, sweet domicile…  It has sheltered us faithfully for a decade.  Seen the birth of 5 children.  And it will, we hope, bless a new (and much smaller!) family.

Such a mix of sadness and joy, wistfulness and anticipation.  We are off to new adventures.  And not everything is clear.  We worry and fret, though we try to remember that we are in His hands.  He wishes only good for us.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Perhaps another small sliver of left-over eggy, apply goodness?  No, I think I’ll just share with you my recipe.  And take myself out for a walk in this glorious rain.

Dutch Baby

8 eggs
1.5 c. flour
1.5 c. milk
1 tsp salt
½ c. butter
4 medium apples, thinly sliced
½ c. sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400F. Place two large baking dishes (glass/Pyrex) in oven with ½ stick butter in each. Beat eggs, flour, milk and salt together for 1 minute (some folks like to use a blender for this part). When the butter is completely melted and HOT, add equal amounts of batter to each dish. Bake for 10 minutes. Combine cinnamon and sugar, set aside. Divide the apples evenly between both dishes, sprinkle on cinnamon sugar and bake for and additional 10-15 minutes.

Serves 6-8 people.





Comfort and Joy

Mother Nature played quite a joke on us today.  She sent us several inches of new snow.  While the children were out taking advantage of what (we hope) will be the last snow of the season, I made a nice, big pan of macaroni cheese and worked on my crocheted cowl.

It nearly always takes a while for spring to warm up here in Massachusetts.  So I figured I would get a lot of wear – possibly 9 whole months – out of knitted and crocheted cowls.  They’ll be especially handy for early morning and evening milkings.  I really don’t like my neck to be cold.  And I have an awful lot of extra skeins hanging about just waiting to be used up.  This one is a soy/wool blend in a colour called “African Violets”, which I frogged from a nearly completed sleep sack.  Somehow, it got buried at the bottom of one of my workbaskets and little Jo outgrew it before it could be used…

Just look at these happy faces::

Joséphine - 5 months old tomorrow




All rosy from making snowballs outside, and ready to partake in one of our favourite Lenten Friday meals.  I share the recipe with you, below.  I hope you’ll love it, too::

Macaroni and Cheese

4T butter

2T oil

2 shallots, minced

1 tsp garlic, minced

4T flour

1 tsp dried ground mustard seed

4 c. warm milk

2 c. white cheddar, shredded (reserve ½ c)

8 oz. cream cheese, cubed

½ c. Swiss cheese, shredded

½ c. light cream

2 lb macaroni, cooked

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Sauté shallot and garlic in butter.  Combine flour, salt pepper, and mustard, and add to pan.  Cook for approximately 2 minutes.  Slowly add warm milk while stirring constantly.  When the sauce begins to thicken, add cheeses, one at a time, stirring until completely melted.  Finish sauce by adding light cream.  Sauce should be very liquid.

Stir sauce into macaroni and let sit 5 minutes.  Pour into a large casserole that has been oiled.  Top with remaining cheese or bread crumbs.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Serves a family of 10.

James recommends an accompaniment of salade mixte. But perhaps you would prefer yours on a separate plate…

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