Waste Not April 6, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 11:20 am

Two quick ideas for using up often wasted foods:

1. Stale bread or bread heels… tear them up into a bowl, and sprinkle cheese on top. Drizzle water over it, and season to taste. (I like a tiny bit of a salty seasoning like french fry seasoning, and a handful of minced onion.) Optionally, add leftover meat from the fridge. Microwave for a minute and a half, and you have a quick stuffing-like lunch.

2. The shreds at the bottom of the shredded wheat… add them to bowl with a packet of instant oatmeal, and cook according to directions. If it’s frosted shredded wheat, it will sweeten unsweetened oatmeal nicely.

 
 

Six Ways to Build Community in Your Parish November 6, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 11:00 am

We’re outgrowing our church … and it’s all Fr. Felipe’s fault. Well, not fault. Credit. The fact is, we’ve had our pastor only a short time but he’s awakened so much of the parish. Since he got here, we’ve had a phenomenal adult retreat, several great retreats for teens, small faith communities forming, numerous Bible study groups, a fellowship ministry, some truly inspiring guest speakers and parish missions… and I’m sure I must be forgetting some things. Now, we have so many people meeting at the parish almost every night that it’s getting hard to find room for all the groups to meet. People are getting to know each other’s names.

I’ve reached the point where I wouldn’t want to move, because I’d miss my parish. That’s big.

Not every pastor has the time or ability to plan so many things to bring the parish together. I realize we are incredibly fortunate. But I think most parishes could do some of these things, and that most pastors would bless these activities if they didn’t have to arrange them personally. So I’m going to list a few of the things our parish is doing or has done that have helped us to become far more of a community.

1. Friends of Fatima. This is a local ministry that I’m pretty sure this one was organized by lay people, with the pastor’s approval. It’s a group of people who have set about doing whatever they can to encourage fellowship. They serve donuts after morning Mass to get people sticking around and talking instead of rushing to their cars. They put on an annual harvest dinner (a real winner in a farming community). They help with other events throughout the year, and they have really brought a feeling of camaraderie to our little parish. If your parish doesn’t have a fellowship group and needs one, consider being the one to spark that fire.

2. COR retreats for teens. These are made available for young people in the parish, and have done a really good job of lighting a fire. The adult planners (as well as teens who have been through the retreat already) partner with new retreatants for a memorable experience. Our confirmation students are required to attend one retreat during their two year preparation; it can be this or another retreat, but I’ve never heard a kid regret attending COR. This is a larger movement, not just our parish, but unfortunately I don’t know where to get information about a program. My best suggestion would be to talk to someone at a parish hosting one in your area to find out what would be necessary to bring them to your parish.

3. Sacred Heart Evangelization Retreat. I haven’t been to a COR, but I have been to a Sacred Heart Evangelization retreat, and it was life changing. It brought enthusiasm and friendship to a whole new level at our parish, and had a long-lasting effect of helping us to build small faith communities that are strengthening our faith and giving us a study and support network that makes so much of the retreat’s effects more permanent.

4. Parish missions. If your parish is not having some sort of mission, I’m surprised. However, if you want a recommendation for one that really moved us, I suggest Brendan Case. He is a layman who leads parish missions, and has a gift for reaching different groups of people. Our parish was really buzzing after he came here, and I know that my teen daughter really felt that it changed her life for the better.

5. Bible Study. While it’s true that any group of people can get together and study the Bible together, you will get much more out of it if it is parish sponsored and has solid guidance. I highly — oh, SO highly — recommend Jeff Cavins’ Great Bible Adventure. Jeff Cavins is extraordinarily gifted both with knowledge of Scripture and with the ability to explain it. The program comes with CDs or DVDs of his talks, which are followed up with group discussion in your small group. I recommend a group of 8-16 participants. The DVD program is a bit of an expenditure; most families won’t be able to buy it. On a parish level, though, it is very much worth the cost of (if I recall correctly) around $300. It can be re-used with one bible study group after another.

6. Finally, there’s you and me. We Catholics are often not as good as we ought to be at fellowship. When you go into the church, look for someone you know but not well. Go up to them and smile, and say hello. Tell them it’s good to see them. No program in the world can ever replace genuine human kindness and friendliness. Even we can learn it, if we try.

 
 

Growing Onions June 16, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 9:22 am

I’m a big fan of gardening for increased self-sufficiency. One of my favorite things to grow is something that provides food without costing anything extra. Green onions are perfect. You buy green onions anyway, right? Next time you buy them, use only the green parts and then take the white bulb parts and bury it in your garden. In no time, they’ll be growing. Then, when you want green onion, instead of picking them, just cut leaves off.

Just make sure you don’t cut all the leaves off at once, because the green leaves are the plant’s source of energy. If you use them faster than they grow, buy more and plant their bulbs, too.

 
 

Healthier Coffee November 19, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 10:47 am

If you want a quick and easy way to less guilty coffee, consider switching from half and half to evaporated milk. It contains about the same number of calories, but is much lower in fat. You will be surprised at how creamy it is, and it is more nutritious. Plus, for those on a budget, it costs less than half as much.

 
 

Whiteboard Idea October 31, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 11:29 am

I get these bees in my bonnet. When we’re lucky, they’re inexpensive or they pass. Today, it’s a moneysaving idea, and I’m looking forward to implementing it as soon as I get a chance to get out of the house. It’s a personal whiteboard for each kid old enough to read.

If you homeschool, you probably do whiteboards, too. Or if you have a big family, with kids who keep different schedules. Or if you’re looking for the perfect housekeeping “method” or chore chart. Today’s idea is simple. I go to Dollar Tree and buy some inexpensive frames that are hangable. If they don’t have hangable ones, I’ll buy a picture hanging kit there, too. We’re looking at maybe three bucks. I slip a thick piece of white paper or card stock into each one, and I hang them. Instapresto, white boards. They won’t stain like the ever popular tileboard (the stuff they make shower walls from) or those shiny cardboard signs. They can be washed, and it won’t ruin them. And they already come with a frame and ready to hang. One for each person, so I can write down chores when I think of them, or take phone notes, or whatever is needed. And they’ll be a whole lot more attractive than most commercial whiteboards that cost more. Dollar Tree usually has whiteboard markers, too.

Feel free to copy the idea or pass it on.