08 May 2016

Seven things I've been doing instead of blogging

I
Sewing



Current project: making napkins for my mom out of that hydrangea print!

II
Schooling



After we finish the day's book work, Little Bear more often than not asks me to print off a tracing page "just for fun." I'm looking forward to checking out new curricula to see if anything catches my eye for the coming year! Or for the summer... so far, I'm not having much luck convincing Little Bear that we should take a summer break. We'll see.

III
Planting


Strawberries! It's still getting too chilly at night to risk leaving most plants out, but as long as we're not expecting a frost, these strawberries are fine to stay out. I can't believe they already have blossoms!

In this next week or two, I need to figure out what plants we're putting where; I know that we want to plant herbs, spinach, tomatoes, and hopefully some flowers, but I need to get it mapped out so I know how many plants we can handle.

IV
Playing


Kit is 10.5 months old now, and she and Little Bear love playing together. She's walking now too, holding onto our fingers, and I spend a lot of time walking in circles with her.

V
Canning


Strawberries went on sale a week or so ago, and somehow over the course of the week something like 20 lbs of them followed me home. Two batches of muffins and a couple quarts of sliced berries went in the freezer, and I put up 6 pints of strawberry syrup and 7 pints of strawberry-rhubarb jam. We'll be able to taste springtime for the rest of the year!

VI
Reading

I finally finished Theresa Tomeo's Extreme Makeover, which was good. I really wasn't her target audience, though, so my experience of it was more "I wish more women heard these things!" than "how have I never heard this before?!?"

The other night I blew through On the Way Home, Laura Ingalls Wilder's journal of their trip from De Smet to Missouri. It was interesting to hear her as an adult and mother, and I enjoyed the "setting" given by her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, at the beginning and end. I have a slightly different mental picture of Laura now, I think, than I did from my much younger reading of her other books. The depiction of the drought and crop failures was sobering, and certainly made me stop and think about what effect such a drought would have on us today.

The Lost Arts of Modern Civilization by Mitchell Kalpakgian is my current read, but it requires more concentration than I can muster when I finally have time to read in the evenings, so it's going slowly! I'll withhold judgement until I've finished it.

VII
Outsiding


I know, it's not a word, but I needed one more participle... We've had beautiful weather lately, and the kids and I have enjoyed getting out for daily walks and playing at parks around town. Little Bear has had fun introducing his sister to swings, and was very excited to bring out the always-know-where-you-are tricycle (badly in need of WD40) to ride back and forth on the deck!

02 May 2016

Going to bed before the sun

It's not quite summer yet, but we can tell that we're getting close: leaves are out, 52 degrees F actually felt chilly today (after ridiculously early high 60s last week), and the sun's insomnia is growing nightly. The sun rose at 5:11 this morning, and it won't set until nearly 10:30 tonight... and it'll be up again even earlier tomorrow.

When Little Bear was a baby, our apartment had blackout curtains, and we made good use of them! Our current apartment doesn't, though; it doesn't actually have any curtains, or the wherewithal to hang curtains—there are heavy insulating shades which block a fair amount of light, but plenty seeps in around the edges. I suppose that maybe we could ask for permission to put holes in the fancy pine-looking window-frames to mount curtain rods, but... that's a lot of work, and more money than we want to spend on a place that we're just renting. Little Bear didn't have much trouble with the light last summer, and Kit was small enough that she slept anywhere and everywhere, so we haven't bothered to do anything about it.

Well, I had a very insistent alarm clock at 6 o'clock this morning. Kit babbled cheerfully as she vigorously patted my face, "ah done, mama, mama, ah done!" All done sleeping, indeed.

Lately I've been putting her down for naps and bedtime with the window shade open to help her grow accustomed to sleeping with all of that sunshine pouring in, and she's done well staying asleep for most of the night... I'll keep working on it, and hope that we don't keep waking up so early! She's good and tired tonight, so we'll see if that helps.

27 April 2016

Getting organized

Happy Easter! That... was a longer break than I'd intended to take. At least we're still in the Easter season, right?

The days are full, as ever, and we've settled into a fairly steady post-Lent rhythm wherein most things get done most days and I learn to let go of the other things that I thought needed doing but apparently didn't, because they didn't happen and we all survived. Blogging seems to have been one of the "let go" things, but I want to try and get back to carving out a spot for it in my week. I know from experience that there are some things that I can only "let go" for so long before it starts negatively impacting me, and using words and language creatively is one of those things. (More creatively than the "Don't try to get gunk out of your sister's nose!" conversations I have too frequently with the kids, I mean.)

Which is to say, this isn't exactly a real catching-up post so much as a brief but earnest promise that I'm going to try, and a completely unsolicited plug for a bundle of resources that happens to have a bunch of ebooks on the subject of organization and schedules! I love organization and schedules, and I'm actually geniunely looking forward to exploring different people's approaches to time management as I figure out how to bring back blogging and some of the other things that have been slipping. Not quite your cup of tea? You might want to pop over and check out the 2016 Ultimate Homemaking Bundle anyway: they have an incredible collection of more than 90 books and other resources on everything from budgeting to motherhood, meal planning to cookbooks to self care.

Actually, as much as I'm looking forward to the organizational books, it was something in that last category that bumped me from "I think I would get a lot out of a lot of these" to "where is my wallet?": a full eCourse on diastasis recti prevention and treatment. I had diastasis recti while pregnant with Kit, with sudden sharp, tearing pain across the top of my abdomen every evening for two weeks until I thought to mention it to my chiropractor; by that point, there was a gap several fingers wide in my rectus abdominus. I absolutely would buy the eCourse to learn how to help it heal and keep from going through that again! And just that one course retails for more than the cost of the entire bundle.

The 2016 Ultimate Homemaking Bundle costs $29.97, and it's only available until May 2. If you know you want it, though, go ahead and pick it up right away: until Thursday night, April 28, you get the .mobi (Kindle format) and .epub (other ereader format) versions of all of the books included for free, instead of as a $10 upgrade (the non-upgraded bundle includes the .pdf versions of the books, which definitely work—I only got the .pdf versions of the 2015 bundle last year, but if you plan to read them on an ereader or phone instead of reading on a computer or printing them, it'll be easier to read the versions that are actually formatted for a small screen.)

Anyway, I'm excited about this year's bundle! If you check it out, I'd love to hear what subjects they cover that interest you, and whether you wind up picking up a copy of the bundle for yourself. And hopefully I'll be back into the swing of posting regularly soon!

18 March 2016

Planning for Holy Week

We have the Solemnity of St Joseph on Saturday, and then Holy Week is upon us! It's time to try and hammer out our plan for this final stretch: lots of liturgies happening, lots of things to make and do, but all the while trying to keep a sense of solemnity and spiritual preparation for Easter.

...then add little kids into the accounting, and the "low bar" goal becomes something more like "keep the chaos to a dull roar."

Solemnity of St Joseph, March 19
There's no Mass for the day at any of the parishes in town, as far as I know. Disappointing, but we'll read the readings at home in the morning, and read and talk about St Joseph with Little Bear throughout the day. Because he's the patron saint of husbands, fathers, workers, and Sicilians, we also make a point of celebrating St Joseph as one of Matt's patrons. 

Supper: something Italian, anyway... I'm sure Matt and Little Bear will both vote for pasta. Most of the recipes I've found that are explicitly linked to St Joseph's feast day involve ricotta and cream and other wonderful things that I can't have right now, but we'll think of something. Last year I made a chocolate sheet cake, but I don't want to have half a cake left over and sitting in the kitchen during Holy Week, so I'll have to find something smaller for dessert. Matt and Little Bear have been talking about milkshakes lately, so maybe the two of them will make those.

Palm Sunday, March 20
Mass: 7:30am, possibly with a procession? There was one last year, but no one said anything about it last weekend. We'll hope it happens!

Palms will immediately go up with the icons, to discourage Little Bear from playing with them... If it's warm enough to take the kids for a walk, we will go hunting for pussy willows as well.

Supper: Psari plaki, cinnamon carrots, and long-grain brown rice. If two years' occurrence makes something "traditional," the psari plaki is our traditional Palm Sunday supper. Or will be, once I'm washing dishes Sunday evening. The recipe is based on a traditional Greek dish for Palm Sunday, and brings the day a brief "taste" of the joy and richness we're looking forward to on Easter.

Monday/Tuesday of Holy Week, March 21/22
It is my firm intention to play the Easter clothes prep game on one of these days, and not let it wait until later in the week. Kit's dress, tights, sweater, shoes; Little Bear's vest, shirt, pants, socks, tie, shoes; whatever Matt and I are wearing: I want to see everything laid out all together, mended, ironed, set aside neatly together so it's all ready for Easter morning.

Just to get our week off to a great start, Kit has a doctor appointment and vaccinations first thing Monday morning.

Tuesday evening, I need to bake the Jidasé for Wednesday.

Spy Wednesday, March 23
Jidasé, Judas buns, for breakfast.

Little Bear and I will read about Judas' agreement to betray Christ, which is where the day's name comes from. Interesting fact of the day: in obsolete usage, "spy" could be defined as meaning "ambush" or "snare," according to the 1933 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. Those meanings help "spy" make a little more sense in the context of Judas' actions, I think.

Little Bear loves hard-boiled eggs, so he should be excited to help me make a bunch of them this afternoon to have them ready to dye. He definitely remembers dying eggs last year—I've been hearing about it all Lent!

Holy Thursday, March 24
Mass: 7:00pm. We're doing it. Little Bear has never been, and it's a long, long Mass that doesn't even start until bedtime, so it could be very hard... But Matt's on the parish council, so he was asked to volunteer to have his feet washed. And maybe the novelty of the special liturgy and the being dressed nicely and at church late at night will inspire good behavior? Let's hope so.

Midmorning, I'll start the dough for the Hot Cross Buns. We have a couple of picture books about the Passion, which I'll pull out in the afternoon.

Supper: I have an unfortunate 2-for-2 record of somehow catching lamb on fire in the oven when I try to cook it, so we will not be having lamb this year. In past years we've always tried to have a nicer supper on Holy Thursday, in commemoration of the Last Supper, but because we need to be able to leave right away afterward for Mass, this year I'm leaning toward a simpler shepherds pie with a spinach salad.

Good Friday, March 25
Hot Cross Buns for breakfast.

Good Friday is a fast day, and while Little Bear and I will not be technically fasting, whatever we eat during the day will (hopefully) be plain and unexciting.

I don't have any idea how to make this happen, but ideally I'd like to try and keep things fairly still and quiet between noon and 3pm, the hours that Christ hung on the cross.

There's a chance we will make it to the Good Friday evening liturgy, but we're not going to push our luck by planning on it. We'll likely do the Stations of the Cross as a family after supper instead. In the evening, Matt and I will begin the Divine Mercy novena.

Supper: Greek lentil soup, crusty bread. I'm planning to use the soup recipe from A Continual Feast, which features vinegar "in memory of the vinegar that Christ was offered on the cross."

Holy Saturday, March 26
The dough for my Italian Easter Bread will get started right away in the morning, and we'll dye eggs with Little Bear while the dough rises. My mother braids raw dyed eggs into her bread and they always cook through completely, but so far the colored eggs in my Easter breads have always come out soft-boiled at best, so I'm going to just stick hard-boiled dyed eggs in it this year. 

We'll also make these spinach-artichoke bites to bring to my parents' house for Easter. If I recall correctly, there was a good bit of spinach-artichoke dip left over last year, so we'll have to work out whether we're bringing that as well or Matt will take care of it at home. (I figure this goes without saying, but while I can make the Jidasé, Hot Cross Buns, and Italian Easter Bread with non-dairy substitutes, I can't do that with these!)

This is not the right year for us to attempt going to the Easter Vigil with the kids, but hopefully some year soon. Once Little Bear is asleep, Matt and I will go around taking down all of the purple cloth covering our crucifixes, statues, icons, etc. The icon of the Resurrection will come out, the black beans in the "sacrifice jar" will be traded out for jelly beans, and we will set out Easter baskets.


Spread out like this, I don't sound too crazy for thinking I can do all these things, do I? As long as I'm really truly not trying to do any extra things outside of the house, and the children are at least marginally cooperative, I think—I hope—I'm choosing to trust that we're going to have a not-too-chaotic Holy Week. And I pray that yours is on the less-chaotic side, as well! What do your plans look like? 


We thank You, O Lord, for having brought us thus far in our journey to seek You anew. Forgive us where we have failed along the way. Strengthen us to continue with peace of soul this last week of our journey, that we may partake in the joyous and glorious day of Your Resurrection. Amen.

From Daily Lenten Reflections for Orthodox Christians, by Emily Harakas.


The list/plan/thing wound up having seven days/entries, so yay, I can link up with Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes! You can find more thoughts on Holy Week and Easter preparation over there this week.

17 March 2016

Midweek motley

What we're doing

Migraines on Monday, teething on Tuesday... It's been "a week" so far. Late Monday morning, bright flashing lights began invading my vision, eventually clouding over half of my sight at a time. When it hadn't lessened after an hour of laying down in a dark room, Matt came home from work to take me to the eye clinic. By the time the optometrist was ready for me, I was curled up on the floor in the dark waiting room, trying not to throw up from the pain in my head. Turns out that I'm one of the lucky people who can get "auras" leading into their migraines... yay.

Given that I was having a migraine and could barely keep my eyes open, it was not exactly surprising that I sort of failed the visual field test on my left eye. I'm not sure why they even bothered to have me do one right away, now that I think about it. But I'm supposed to go back the week after Easter to repeat it, just in case.

Kit has been fussier and clinger than usual all week, which has been so much fun with the "aftershock" headaches that have popped up by midafternoon every day since Monday. On Wednesday morning I finally figured out why: another tooth has been breaking through. Eight teeth in two months—Little Missy should hopefully be ready to take a break from teething now!

Little Bear and I talked about St Patrick today and he colored a picture of the saint holding a shamrock and ordering some snakes to leave. I don't think the snake story made much sense to him, because we don't have any snakes here, either, so he's never seen one outside of a zoo. But he liked how St Patrick used the shamrock to teach about God! We never did get around to the idea of green being associated with his feast day, which is good because I'm not sure I know why it is; Little Bear was very sure that he should use purple for St Patrick's chasuble and mitre since it's Lent, so I wasn't about to argue with that.

What we're eating

Lentil soup, pasta with marinara... Nothing very impressive, though it's Lent so that's kind of the point, isn't it? We did not have corned beef et al tonight, thank goodness; the week has been penitential enough without that!

I made a chicken pie this evening, and I think this crust turned out better than my last dairy-free crust; I used a bunch of whole wheat flour in it, and added some savory, marjoram, thyme, and lavender. Being accustomed to butter- or cream cheese-based pie crusts, shortening pie crust tastes so bland! The toasty wheat and the mixed herbs certainly helped, though.

So I grew up believing that all shortening is basically evil, right? Straight-up hydrogenated vegetable oil. Yuck. But when we received Kit's diagnosis right at the beginning of Advent, I went to the ladies at my natural foods co-op in the hopes that they could give me dairy-free alternatives to salvage my Christmas baking. One of the things that came home with me was this:


Non-hydrogenated shortening. It's made from 100% "mechanically pressed" palm oil, so even now that I've had to cut out soy as well, it still works for us. No trans fats, no weird additives; I still prefer coconut or olive oil for most things, but I use this for greasing pans, and it works fine in recipes that call for shortening, like pie crust.

Little Bear and I also made some quick no-bake granola bars the other day, but I was working one-handed with Kit in the other arm, so no photos. They are soft and chewy, and everyone seems to agree that it's a recipe worth saving:

2 cups rolled oats
2 cups rice crispies
1/2 to 3/4 cup raisins
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a 13x9 pan with foil and grease well. 
Combine oats and rice crispies in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, bring honey and brown sugar to a boil, then remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla, and pour over oats and cereal. Stir until there are no more dry patches, then stir in raisins.
Press mixture firmly into pan and allow to cool completely. Remove foil from pan, cut granola bars to desired size, and wrap individually.

What we're reading

Same books as the last few weeks: 


This week it's been all I can do to get through the daily readings from each of these books, plus the daily emailed reflections from Bishop Robert Barron and Blessed Is She. And I don't want to give any of those up, because they are all so good! So I've wound up not really having the time or mental ability to read much else. Hopefully once these headaches go away I'll get a chance to catch up on some blog reading; right now, my eyes are preferring to avoid screens as much as possible.

12 March 2016

Seven reasons to feast during Lent (SQT)

Linking up with This Ain't The Lyceum.

It's pretty common knowledge that Catholics "give stuff up for Lent." Sweets, alcohol, gossip, broccoli... everyone has something they've given up in order to (hopefully) draw closer to God. Our family does meatless Wednesdays as well as Fridays, along with some other personal sacrifices.

As Matt and I were talking the other day, the question of "what for Lent entails, exactly" came up, and it's an interesting one. Does sacrificing something for Lent mean it's completely gone for the whole span from Ash Wednesday through the end of the Triduum (which is technically not Lent, but definitely a penitential season anyway)? Or are there exceptions, and if so what are they?

It turns out that this can be a surprisingly heated question; many people I've talked to who favor or oppose marking certain days and times in Lent by taking a break from their voluntary sacrifices seem to feel very strongly indeed that their way is best, or even the only correct position to take. We lean more toward the position that if "how to Lent" hasn't been set in stone, well, it's not set in stone. Given that stance, this should be obvious, but just in case, I'm not telling anyone that they're doing Lent wrong! Unless they're eating meat on run-of-the-mill Lenten Fridays without a dispensation, I suppose. But in the Shifflerhaus, and with our understanding of Lenten sacrifices, we do make a point of celebrating these days even during Lent:

I
Birthdays. So far, Matt's the only one with a Lenten birthday; the latest date possible for Easter to occur is April 25, and Alex's birthdate is April 26, so her birthday will never quite fall during Lent. But we do celebrate Matt's birthday despite its always being in Lent, complete with a meal of his choosing and his favorite brownies. (I should note that we as a family have not explicitly given up dessert; I focus on making "simple" food, so not making desserts has been a natural extension of that, but if someone gives us cookies they're fair game for after supper. His requested supper, burgundy meatballs, is definitely not what I would consider "simple," though, so having brownies was not the only thing that marked the day as different and celebratory.) 

II
Name days. (Otherwise known as the feast of your patron saint.) In our house, name days are a big deal. Goodness knows I badger all of our patron saints for prayers and help on a regular basis; the least I can do is celebrate their feast days! We read about the saints, maybe read something by the saint of the day, see if I can find a coloring page to print off... And like with birthdays, we let the one celebrating their nameday pick out supper, and dessert is likely to appear. For Kit's nameday last week we didn't have anything particularly special, since she's little and wouldn't have understood, plus Matt was out of town and "fancy" just wasn't happening, but Little Bear was happy to pick one of his favorite suppers to celebrate for his sister. Octopus pancake it was.

III
Baptismal days. If the day you're born makes the list of "days worthy of celebrating," the day you're reborn through Baptism should definitely count too. It's arguably a more important day, even! Same basic drill: we talk and read about the sacrament of Baptism and make a specially-requested supper, with a strong possibility of dessert. 

IV
St Joseph. The feast day of St Joseph, March 19, is a Solemnity. A capital-S solemnity means it's a really big deal, a celebratory, no-fasting, meat-eating-even-if-it's-a-Lenten-Friday sort of big deal. 
"Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (Can. 1251)."
So, we celebrate it. 

V
Annunciation. Well, usually; because March 25 (the Annunciation—exactly nine months before Christmas) happens to be Good Friday this year, observance of the Annunciation had to be bumped all the way to April 4; they couldn't just move it to the week after Easter, because each of the seven days following Easter Sunday (the "octave of Easter") is a Solemnity in its own right. The Annunciation is a Solemnity as well, so even when it falls during Lent (as it usually does), we celebrate it as such. With waffles.

VI
Laetare Sunday. The fourth Sunday in Lent is Laetare Sunday, "Rejoice" in Latin. The name comes from Isaiah 66:10, "Rejoice, O Jerusalem..." which is the Introit for the day. When we hit Laetare Sunday we're halfway through Lent, and everything starts hurrying along toward Easter: next comes Passion Sunday, then Palm Sunday, and we're already into Holy Week! So the Church marks Laetare Sunday as a day of rejoicing that Easter is in sight; a ways off yet, but we've crossed the turning point. 

VII
Sundays in general. This one might be the most controversial; the two opposing views as I understand them (and please, if you interpret them differently, share your position!) are A) Lent is Lent, and taking breaks from your sacrifices every week is cheating and is opposed to the spirit of Lent, vs. B) every Sunday is a "little Easter," a commemoration of the Resurrection, and it's thus inappropriate to fast (c.f. Matt 9:15). We agree with the latter view, and do not treat the Sundays of Lent as penitential days.


Edited to clarify: The "no meat on Fridays of Lent" is a hard-and-fast rule, so birthdays, name days, and baptismal days don't overrule that. Solemnities, though, do. We have meatless birthday, etc. celebrations if they fall on Fridays, but meat for supper on solemnities regardless of what day it is.


Agree? Disagree? Did I forget something? What days, if any, do you count as exceptions to your Lenten observances?

09 March 2016

Midweek Motley

What we're doing

Little Bear learned about exclamation points today. That knowledge may or may not have been acquired by reading comic book sound effects... He was very proud of himself.

Matt is home from his work trip, and hopefully not traveling again for a while. So many things are just better when he's home, when I know that he'll be back every evening. Rhythm and schedule are important to me, and it seems like the kids do better when our days follow familiar patterns as well. And of course, it's good to spend time with him and for him to have time playing with the kids. Kit definitely talks more for/to Dada in the evenings than she does all day with me: he regularly gets "drum," "(s)tan(d)," and even "dum(p) t(r)uck" from her, and I rarely hear anything other than "nigh(t) nigh(t)" and "done," both cues that she's tired of whatever else is going on and just wants to go nurse. Daddy is for playing with, Mommy is for eating and sleeping on. :-)

Kit has reached the point where she's very sure that she should be able to move around the room, and becomes upset quickly when it turns out that nope, actually, she can't. Tonight during story time she was rolling all over the bedroom floor, and found herself over by the mirror, where she happily smiled at herself for a while. She's become very good at "driving" her walker where she wants to go in the kitchen and dining area, but she can't get off of that hard-floored area into the rest of the apartment. If she's sitting on the floor and something or someone is out of reach, though, she quickly turns on the tears until Matt or I come and pick her up.

What we're eating

Red lentil vegetable soup tonight! It was my first time cooking with red lentils, and I'm pretty sure also my first attempt at vegetable soup. I left out the spinach and green beans, mostly because I forgot about them, but it was very colorful anyway with the carrots, tomato, and green bell pepper. The red lentils did not dissolve into creamy shapelessness like the recipe had promised, but it was a very good soup regardless. Little Bear was not a huge fan, but I'm hoping we can attribute his reluctance to eat it to the brown basmati I served it over... There's a lot left over, and I'd like him to help me eat it for lunches.

For breakfast on Matt's birthday, I had a pan of these dairy-free banana pecan cinnamon rolls waiting for us. So delicious! I was planning to have the rolls all prepped the night before and ready to pop in the oven when we got up, but then he had to take a later flight home than he'd planned and I was up waiting for him until midnight, so I just went ahead and baked them. We didn't wind up frosting them, and they really didn't need it. I wouldn't have believed that you could get such a smooth, springy dough with no milk or butter, but they were perfect; I even used spelt flour!

If, and this is a big if, everyone gets enough sleep tonight and is having a good day tomorrow and I decide that I'm feeling adventurous, we may be attempting to make homemade coconut milk. Surely it's not that difficult; the only ingredients are flaked coconut and water. There's a sack of unsweetened flaked coconut taking up pantry space that is not disappearing quite as quickly as I'd expected, and oh my goodness non-dairy milk is expensive. I've been using almond milk from the store, not coconut, but if I can make non-dairy milk at home with ingredients I already have instead of buying those cartons that cost twice as much per ounce as cow milk? I should try. We don't have a blender, though, and the idea of making milk in the food processor still has me a little skeptical.

What we're reading

I loved Simcha Fisher's post at the National Catholic Register today, "Suck it up" vs. "Offer it up". She explains well what "offering it up" means, and the reasons why we do it.

Over at Carrots for Michaelmas, Haley has a great collection of suggestions and ideas for How to Do Holy Week with kids. Although I've been keeping track of Sundays in my head—last Sunday was Laetare Sunday, we're coming up on Passion Sunday, and after that is Palm Sunday—I needed to see those lists of so many things we could potentially be doing to remind me to get our own lust hammered out here quickly.

Plus, she's hosting a giveaway for beautiful handmade beeswax candles shaped like Easter eggs, from Toadily Handmade Beeswax Candles! We used their make-your-own Advent candles kit this past year and loved it, and now I'm eyeing those eggs... do I really need more candles? But they're so cute! Check them out here.

Katherine of Half Kindled is hosting a series this week on creating a capsule wardrobe, which has been fun and informative so far. If you're interested, it begins here with Capsuled Style Day One.

And Little Bear is reading superhero books. Well, I'm reading superhero books, and Little Bear is reading "Boom!" "Crack!" "Zzzap!" etc. We have a set of Little Gilden Books featuring the Avengers, and it looks like they are back in the current set of books he wants to hear every day. At least it's not Dick and Jane; his insistence on trying to read that all by himself, when they start out assuming the kids know about silent Es and double vowels and all kind of non-short-vowels was making me crazy!