March 19, 2017

It Ad Joseph!

To say that St. Patrick's Day is a high feast day in Savannah would be the understatement of the century!  It becomes The Emerald City, literally dying its multitude of fountains green and swathing every front porch in the Irish flag.

Do you know what the colors of the Irish flag represent?  The green represents the Catholics, the orange the Protestants, and the white the hoped-for peace between them.

(....I know.  Keep praying!)

Today, however, good St. Joseph is not to be ignored.  For all you Italians out there -- or just you humble daughters of the foster father of our Lord -- here are some crafty ideas for celebrating this important feast day from Catholic Icing.

Additionally, here is a really lovely, simple, paper "St. Joseph's Altar", courtesy of Evann Duplantier, for your family to construct.  Evann also has a lovely page full of menu choices, where you may enjoy everything from inspirational photos of other St. Joseph's Day altars to a super easy (and yummy!) edible craft.

Oh?  You've never heard of a St. Joseph's Day altar?  Oh, my dear, do let me tell you!

St. Joseph's Altars may be as humble or elaborate as you like, but I encourage you to enjoy this lively Italian tradition in your home.  From red wine to seafood to donuts, it's worth consecrating your edibles to the man who was the Provider for the Holy Family.

Our parish deacon reminded us one Christmas that, although St. Joseph figures prominently in Jesus's early life in the Bible, St. Joseph never says a word.  Not one syllable.  How many of us could be counted upon to hear the Lord, follow His instructions, trust in His ways, and serve Him as He wishes, without ever saying a word?

Not me.

Yet St. Joseph gives us all the perfect example of "silent strength."  If you want to raise up a mentor for your spouse, a hero for your sons, a good example for your fathers, or a model husband for your daughters, "it ad Joseph."  Go To Joseph!

And that's an order straight from the top:

"St. Pope John XXIII, who succeeded Pius XII in 1958, added some new feasts and made some other changes to the liturgical calendar, as well as amending some of the rubrics. In his 1962 edition of the Missal, he also deleted the word 'perfidis' (Latin: 'faithless') from the Good Friday prayer for the Jews, and added the name of St. Joseph to the Canon of the Mass. The second change was particularly significant, as many had considered the text of the Canon to be practically untouchable." (underlined emphasis added)

Prior to Vatican II, Eucharistic Prayer I was the only Canon used by the Church.  And it hadn't been touched for over 1,000 years.

Tales by the camp fire from that Council have it that an elderly priest originally made the humble suggestion to add St. Joseph to the Mass.  He was scoffed at by Vatican hierarchy, only to be vindicated when Pope John XXIII approved the addition the very next day.

It Ad Joseph!  Enjoy!

History of St. Joseph Devotion

March 16, 2017

St. Patrick....'Tis Himself!

Here's a marvelous link to everything you ever wanted to know about St. Patrick!  And who wouldn't?  After all, he was Scottish, you know (!).  Enjoy!

March 15, 2017

Irish Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tomorrow marks the feast of this great Irish saint and to celebrate here's my favorite recipe for good ole fashioned "Irish Soda Bread" (of which there would be no "soda" without the visit to Ireland of two Americans, Mr. Arm and Mr. Hammer!).  It's my favorite because it's won out over many other failures through the years!

I cut this recipe out of a magazine years ago, but unfortunately did not cut out the magazine's name.  So, if anyone recognizes this exact recipe, please let me know so I may ascribe proper credit.  Enjoy!

Irish Soda Bread

Prep: 10 minutes
Bake: 1 hour

1/4 c. sugar
1 tbl. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbl. cold butter
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1 c. golden or dark seedless raisins (optional - not authentic to original Irish soda breads, the addition of expensive dried fruits was a later American indulgence)

1.  Preheat oven to 350F degrees.  Grease large cookie sheet.
2.  In large bowl, combine sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and flour.  With pastry blender or forks, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
3.  Add buttermilk just until evenly moistened.  With floured hand, gently knead dough minimally into ball.  Do not over mix or bread will be tough.
4.  Place dough on cookie sheet and shape into roughly 7" round loaf.  With sharp knife, cut 4" long cross 1/4" deep in top and sprinkle loaf lightly with flour.
5.  Bake one hour.  Cool on wire rack.

This recipe yields a lightly buttery, moist bread with a rough, crunchy, crusty outside.  MMMmmmm!

March 14, 2017

St. Patrick's Day Craft

Here's an easy little craft to get you and your children in the right frame of mind for St. Patrick's Day!  The traditional image of a rainbow leading to a pot o' gold can be endowed with Christian meaning, a la St. Patrick's use of Ireland's native three-leafed shamrock to explain to the pagans there the Christian concept of three Divine Persons in the one God of the Most Holy Trinity.

Make a simple, rainbow-hued, paper chain and a black pot with gold coins from construction paper or sturdy card stock.  Remember, however, what the Bible tells us about treasure:

"Do not store up store up for yourselves treasures on Earth...but, store up treasures in Heaven...for where your treasure is, there will your heart also be!" (Matthew 6:19-21)

Therefore, on each link of the paper chain, write one of your spiritual "treasures" in life.  For this example, I chose these:


For another example, one of my children made one for an aunt and put each of our family member's names on a link.  The possibilities are endless and as unique to each of your children!

Now, go have fun with scissors!

And remember why anyone is a saint or striving to be a saint -- because God made us ALL to know, love, and serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven.  And THAT's where we should store up our treasures!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

March 1, 2017

Stations of the Cross - FREE Coloring Book

Just in time for inspiration during the Fridays of Lent, here is a lovely FREE coloring book, which you may download for your children.  It is based upon the Stations of the Cross:

February 9, 2017

The Weight of a Mass

I highly recommend this book, The Weight of a Mass, by Josephine Nobisso!

It is derived from a *TRUE* story that actually occurred in a butcher's shop and was witnessed and recounted by the father of Father Stanislaus, SS. CC. of Luxembourg. As a result of witnessing this exchange, Father Stanislaus's father began to attend daily Mass.... and his son (Father Stanislaus!) became a priest!

Josephine Nobisso is from the Bronx, NY and homeschooled her daughter from 5th grade through high school.  She is the author of many meritorious children's books, including Take It to the Queen: A Tale of Hope.

February 1, 2017

The Catholic Addams Family

Start humming the tune to "The Addams Family," snap your fingers, then treat yourself to Father Dwight Longenecker's latest article:

With Love From Your Fellow Sinfully Tacky Catholic,

November 30, 2016

Christmas Novena - START TODAY!

Happy Church New Year!  The first Sunday of Advent is the beginning of the Church's new liturgical year.  Celebrating it on the heels of the uniquely American holiday of Thanksgiving is a joyous union of gratitude for our country's great civic and spiritual blessings!

To start off your Church Year, join me TODAY in starting the "Christmas Novena" or "St. Andrew's Novena."  This novena is recited 15 times a day (yes, fifteen times per day... whew!) from Monday, November 30th (the Feast of St. Andrew) through Christmas Day (the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord).

This is piously believed to be a very powerful novena!

...think it's too much?

- Break up your recitations!  Pray five at breakfast, five at lunch, and five at dinner or bedtime.

- Post copies (see below) throughout your house beside your Christmas decorations.
- Pray it as a family, so your family total equals fifteen times per day.

Does it "count" if you miss a day or a recitation?  Who knows!

No, I mean it.  "Who" knows.  With a capital "W."  God knows!  Only God knows what is in your heart and mind this Advent and Christmas season.  Only God knows why you might need this novena and actually opened this e-mail from that crazy lady in Savannah.

Only God, the Creator of the universe and YOU, came down from on high as a helpless Infant Child to rescue YOU and me from the insanity of sin as flawed human beings.  He made you.  He loves you!  And He made you to know, LOVE, and serve Him in this world and be happy with Him forever in Heaven.


Please join me in praying this novena, in trying to focus for at least a few moments every day of Advent on the Infant Christ, Who is to come.  He is coming to save the world -- to save YOU!

Hail and blessed be that incomprehensibly vast, generous, and singular moment of His arrival!

Let this be a Blessed Advent and a very Merry Christmas, indeed!

Here is the text of the novena, as well as links to a document for you to print of the novena AND a daily checklist:




Saint Andrew
Christmas Novena
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother.


Christmas Novena - START TODAY!

While a novena is normally a nine-day [or nine hour] prayer, the term sometimes is used for any prayer that is repeated over a series of days. The Saint Andrew Christmas Novena is often called simply the "Christmas Novena" or the "Christmas Anticipation Prayer," because it is prayed 15 times every day from the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle (November 30th) until Christmas. The First Sunday of Advent is the Sunday closest to the Feast of Saint Andrew.

The novena is not actually addressed to Saint Andrew, but to God Himself, asking Him to grant our request in honor of the birth of His Son at Christmas.  You can say the prayer all 15 times, all at once, or divide up the recitation as necessary (perhaps five times at each meal).

Prayed as a family, the Saint Andrew Novena is a very good way to help focus the attention of your children on the Advent Season.

Saint Andrew Christmas Novena
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

(source: by Scott P. Richert at

November 28, 2016

St. Andrew Christmas Novena - Checklist

I don't know about you, but as we progress through the increasingly busy Advent season, I sometimes lose track of how many recitations I have prayed each day of my St. Andrew's Christmas Novena.  So, here's a handy little checklist to help ensure all of us remember our novena each day!

St. Andrew's Christmas Novena Checklist:

God bless us all, everyone!

October 27, 2016

Clean Up Your Room!

A homeschool friend of mine recently asked if I thought it was unrealistic for her to expect her sons to clean up their own room.  Conflicting advice she previously had received was:

"It's their room.  Let them keep it how they like,"


"It's your house.  Make them keep it how you like."

Oy.  Here was my advice:

Yes, you have the right to expect them to clean up their room.
No, you're not being unrealistic.

That being said...


When I was little, my mother was haranguing me (again) about cleaning up my room.  "You'll clean up the stables, but you won't clean up your room.  Well, this is my house!" she railed, incensed.  "And this room is just as much my room as it is your room!  So clean it up!!!"


Obviously, the comment stuck.  And I resented it.


Inside, I knew my room really WAS just MY room.  And while the comment ticked me off at the time, often it's not what you say, but how you say it.  My father basically told me the same thing, with a calmness and an eye toward taking care of the gifts God had given us.  I cleaned up my room, albeit imperfectly I'm sure, but with a MUCH better attitude.

Today, I greatly appreciate the habits (both mental and physical) that BOTH my parents formed in me to TAKE GOOD CARE OF WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU.  He who prizes little things is worthy of great ones!


"But, how do you make them DO it!?"

My friend's boys' room sounds similar to mine: three boys; their beds; and one dresser, desk, LEGO table, and closet.  My personal "secret" to success in their cleaning up (this is just what works for us) is that everything HAS a place.  Every.  Thing.  Every single item they own BELONGS somewhere, whether it's "shirts in the top drawer, pants in the bottom drawer" or a labeled bin.  So, when I demand "clean up," there's no question of, "Well, I don't know where this goes!"

Another big help is their "clothing basket."  All my kids have a clothing basket beside or at the foot of their beds (no bigger than an elbow basket, at most!).  If today's worn clothes aren't clean, but also aren't hideously filthy and can be played in tomorrow, then they dump 'em in the clothing basket when they strip for pajamas at night (and this is where their pajamas usually also reside -- same rule).  Sometimes, the clothing basket DOES pile up, but at least it's ONE little pile that's quickly conquered.

I don't demand a "vacuum ready" room daily.  I do demand each night a clear path and space to play, especially if we've recently done a thorough cleaning up (say, for company).  It's easier to encourage a two-minute "quick-clean" at bedtime (because that's when I'm in there and see it), then to turn a blind eye for a week and then "Go Vesuvius!" when it's degenerated into heaps of bio-hazardous conditions.


There have been two occasions where I DID "Go Vesuvius!", in a deadly calm sort of way.  (It was great!)  I coined the phrase, "If it's on the floor, it's out the door, and to the poor!"  

For a WEEK thereafter, ANYTHING left on the floor at night after they went to bed (e.g. - clothes, LEGOs, favorite dinosaur, etc.) was GONE the next morning.  GONE!  I picked it all up in the dark with a flashlight and (unbeknownst to them) put it in a solid, black, lawn trash bag in the garage.  It only took a day or two for a vital item to be missed!  Waaaaaah!  Church pants, bath towels, underwear, LEGOs -- they all disappeared, ostensibly dropped off at the Thrift Shop donation shed.


Point made.

(Caveat:  Items that I deemed TRULY necessary, I either surreptitiously assimilated back into their drawers OR gave them an eye to eye lecture before restoring it about NEVER letting this happen again.  )

I have no magic wand nor standard practice that ALWAYS works.  But, "a place for everything" and a nightly daily "quick-clean" (usually two minutes or less, with my helping the littler ones [now just our youngest, age 5] while I chirp how quick and easy this is!).

Hang in there!!!  Your kids all WILL turn out great, including a fine sense of responsibility in caring for the gifts God has given them, because YOU will have taught them that.

A wise friend of mine once said that if you're not a mean mom, you're not doing it right.  Tally ho! 


"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9)

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (II Corinthians 4:17)

"His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!' " (Matthew 25:21)

"Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor." (Proverbs 12:24)

August 15, 2016

For a Worldwide Increase in Faith, Hope, Charity

Near the beginning of the recitation of the Rosary, many people traditionally offer the little group of three Hail Marys, "For an increase in the virtues of faith, hope, and charity." My husband humbled me greatly the other day, when leading our family Rosary, by adding one, simple word: "For a WORLDWIDE increase in the virtues of faith, hope, and charity."

It's a small thing, and the "worldwide" probably already was assumed.

But, for me, adding that one, little word now reminds me (and God, I hope, Who already knows -- but still loves to hear from us! -- our heartfelt desires) that the influence of evil is stronger and deeper and more devastating than ever in today's world.

God, however, is stronger and bigger and more powerful than any evil. So, we need Him. All of us. More than ever. And His mother always will lead every heart unerringly to Him.

It will take the concerted, prayerful, worldwide effort of Christianity, God and humanity, to combat the depths of today's evil. Together.

The great parliamentarian Edmund Burke stated, "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

The great Capuchin saint St. Padre Pio de Pietrelcina stated, "Pray the Rosary, for the Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world," and, in reference to his rosary, "Bring me my weapon!"

If you can't go to a pro-life march, travel on a mission trip, volunteer at a shelter, serve on an inter-faith committee, attend a conference on human trafficking, etc., you CAN pray your Rosary.

Right now. Any time. For a worldwide increase in the virtues of faith, hope, and charity. Together!

August 9, 2016

Saint Peg Dolls

Okay.  So I'm addicted to saint peg dolls.  It's not such a baaaaaad addiction. it?

For anyone who might be interested, there is a Facebook group called "Catholic Saints Peg Doll Swap" (just google that group name on Facebook).  The group facilitates long-distance saint peg doll swaps!  (Currently, they also are doing a "Jesse Tree Ornament" swap, but their primary interest is peg dolls.)

Even if you don't participate in a long-distance swap, the group does post some interesting tips and photos of other women's peg dolls to share tips and ideas.  One gal even posted instructions on how to make a PREGNANT peg doll.  (Yes!  Really!)
...I think I see a "Mysteries of the Rosary" or "Feast Days" peg doll swap in my future, with "The Visitation" now being one of them!

Through these "holy reminders" (as Mother Angelica used to say), may God bless all our homes with His angels and saints! Enjoy!

July 14, 2016

Just Get a Brick

Here in Savannah, it's just referred to as, "The Book."  John Berendt's well-written, reality-based novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, is set in Savannah in 1981 and based on an actual murder.  The Book, arguably, put gracious, picturesque, historic Savannah back on the map as a popular tourist destination.

(And it certainly made the sale of stone girl lawn ornaments sky-rocket!)

The dust jacket describes the book as, "a hugely entertaining and deliciously perverse bracing and intoxicating as half a dozen mint juleps!"

To me, its romantic setting -- the picturesque, moss-draped oaks and cool, verdant, green squares of downtown Savannah -- is punctuated by John Berendt's pithy, observant narrative of the people involved in some of the seedier aspects of the city's life, the grit beneath the apparently genteel and generous skirts of upper crust, gracious, Southern Belle Savannah.

Beyond the sordid tale, however, I came away with one very important lesson:

How To Clean a Toilet.

In the book, the main character recounts the entire story in first person, told from the perspective of his being a newly arrived resident of Savannah.  As he attempts to clean up his crumbling apartment, the toilet, apparently, is beyond hope, its bowl encrusted irreparably with the local famously stubborn hard water deposits.

"What you need is a brick!" a local Savannahian tells him.


A brick.  He should scrub the toilet bowl with a brick.  Yes, an actual, run-'o-the-mill, ordinary, red, building brick (although in Savannah, the bricks are a tan color called "Savannah Gray").  A brick, it is explained, is harder than the hard water deposits, yet softer than the porcelain.


Yes, really!  It works!

Last week, I decided I was willing to sacrifice the possible permanent marring of one of our lesser-used toilets to experiment on the veracity of this advice (imagine the possibilities if it actually worked!).  I used a plain ole red brick (we had exactly one, discarded in the back yard; I smashed it to get a smaller piece) to scrub the inner bowl of the toilet, which previously had been utterly uncleanable ( that a word?).

And it worked!!!  It actually worked!

Here are my before, during, and after pictures to prove it to you.  Feel free to borrow this tactic and run with it.  ...just make sure you don't flush your bit of brick down the toilet.  THAT would be a whole 'nother kettle 'o fish...

Happy Cleaning!