Sunday, March 29, 2020

Chocolate Chip Cookies


I can't believe it is nearly four months into the new year and I haven't blogged about a recipe! I have been on the search for the best chocolate chip cookie, and I think I found it. I love cookies and I especially love baking cookies, so this was a real treat! Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients: 

~ 3/4 cup vegetable oil
~ 1 cup brown sugar
~ 1 egg
~ 1 t vanilla
~ 1/2 t baking soda
~ 1 t water
~ 1/4 t salt
~ 1 1/2 cups flour
~ 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions: 

Mix ingredients and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Makes a dozen cookies!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Remember to Smile


This is a challenging time. It's like stepping into a parallel universe, a sci-fi novel, or the Twilight Zone. What we don't want is for the difficulties to rob us of our simple joys. It's always better to look at what you do have, rather than what you don't. To remember to smile so we don't forget that there's a bigger picture. I heard a priest say in a talk recently that 99% of the universe God created is spiritual, meaning there is so much more supernatural than material aspects of creation, and God is present in so many ways that we can't even fathom it. We need reminders like that when we are deprived of spiritual benefits in these times of suppressions of Mass.

Something that I think helps when nothing is how it should be is to keep your life and schedule as normal as possible. Maybe you are working from home when you haven't before or all the places you would normally visit are closed, but you can still keep a routine, or modify your usual routine. Grab onto something that's normal, like walking your dog, reading your favorite book, or drinking your go-to coffee or tea. The little things remind us that "just because everything's changing, doesn't mean it hasn't been this way before," to quote the song "The Call." What we are facing may not have been exactly the same in history (and certainly seems unprecedented), but there are similarities and people made it through.

We don't want to look back on this time later and only see panic, disease, and restrictions. We want to remember birthday's and sunshine and conversations . . . in short, things that make you smile--we want to remember the smiles through the trials. This is not to say that it will all be rosy (most of it is not), but in dark days we need to focus on something that lifts us up, not what drags us down . . . because that's easy to feel (and get stuck in) in crisis moments.

Above all, these times shows you the importance of being able to connect with people. To be separated from congregating in public makes you realize what social creatures we are. So keep up your connections as best you can and especially your connection with God Who is present always.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

A Chicken Little World


I think the topic of this current virus is one of much controversy and debate. There's truth to it and people are legitimately sick and for that we must pray, but something that strikes me about all this is the hype and hysteria that is following the wake of illness. Illness can be a terrifying thing, it can take over our lives or the lives of those we love, and it brings us down a road that can often be filled with unknowns . . . but it is not the end and things may very well not be as bad as they seem.

It is becoming a chicken little world, in the sense that someone is saying the sky is falling...and the result is utter chaos and confusion. People are forgetting to be calm and rational about it all, even if there are unknowns. I love this quote above, "when it rains, look for rainbows, when it's dark, look for stars." Even if the sky is falling, there are still positive things to focus on. 

I listened to a talk recently where a priest said one of the devil's tactics is to turn a person's focus on "anything but God." Are we turning to God during this time, are we praying more, are we trusting that God is bigger than our troubles? It seems that the focus is on worry, calamity, and suffering, rather than on God. I don't want to belittle this situation as simply a distraction, but it kind of is. It's giving the problem more power than it deserves.

So, find a rainbow amidst the rain and a star lighting up the sky because that forces you to look up and beyond what is below.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Firehouse Subs


I am a big fan of trying new restaurants. There's something exciting about a new food place opening in the city that shows growth and community. Food brings people together and creates a connection where there might not have been one. 

This week I made my way to Firehouse Subs, a sandwich joint I had been wanting to check out for some time. They have a variety of signature classics like Hook and Ladder, New York Steamer, and Firehouse Meatball, all of which looked delicious. I tried my hand at the Club on a Sub, which had turkey breast, honey ham, pepper bacon, Monterey Jack, and served "Fully Involved"--their phrase for mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles.

I gladly give my sandwich a five star rating, both for taste and size. I chose the medium, which was about an eight inch sandwich, thinking it would be small, but I had half left over for the next day with their generous portions. Plus there are combo options with chips (or a cookie!) and drink, side menus of salads and soups, or kids' portions.

One noteworthy part about Firehouse Subs is their support of first responders. A portion of all their sales goes to buying equipment that firemen, policemen, EMT's, and paramedics need to do their jobs well. I personally love supporting businesses that give back, and especially toward a cause that means so much.

So if you're looking for a great sandwich that supports a great cause, make your way over to Firehouse Subs and enjoy a meal that leaves you satisifed!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

In the Midst of Noise


We are at the first Sunday of Lent and this season is a reminder of the silence that is necessary to prepare our hearts for our Risen Lord. It may not be possible to eliminate all the distractions and occupations of our life that hinder a sense of quiet, but we can still find God in the midst of them. That is what makes the quiet--the presence of One who reveals Himself in the "still, small, voice."

The literal definition of quiet is "making little or no noise." In the midst of noise we cannot hear anything but that, unless we direct our hearts outside of the noise. If our hearts are quiet and making no noise, then our very bearing will reflect a tranquil spirit. It will be easier to find God in the middle of the busyness if we are at peace.

At the same time, there are aspects of our lives that we do have control over in eliminating noise. There are things we choose that are not always conducive to fostering a quiet life. Maybe we aren't even looking for a quiet life because the thrill of noise tempers some suffering we are trying to forget. Not that all noise is bad, we want activity and laughter and conversation. It's when we don't make any time for silence that the noise will become deafening.

So in the midst of noise, find God. Make His voice more persistent in your thoughts than anything else, and you might just find yourself hearing Him as if for the first time.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Golden Arrow

"May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and unutterable Name of God be always praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified, in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen."

If you are looking for something to do this Lent that will be simple enough to persevere in for forty days, but still be truly meaningful to add to your spiritual life, then consider praying the Golden Arrow prayer. It's something you could tape to your fridge or mirror or desk that you would glance toward throughout the day to remind you to pray this often.

Our Lord told Sister Mary of St Peter that blasphemy injured Him more grievously than all other sins and was as a poisoned arrow continually wounding His Divine Heart. He gave her the Golden Arrow which could touch Him delightfully so as to heal those other wounds inflicted by the malice of sinners and grant graces to those who recited it. 

Lent is about drawing closer to the Lord, and what better way to do that than by honoring His Holy Name? Blasphemy and using God's Name in vain are common sins of our time that need reparation, so this would be a great way to prepare our hearts for the Lord at Easter. 

I am not the best at adding multiple penances and resolutions for Lent because more often than not I start strong and end . . . well wanting. So if you're like me and need something you can manage to keep going through a crazy busy ordinary life, this might be the prayer for you as a fruitful Lent idea!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Castles in the Air


What do you think about castles in the air? Is it fruitless to dream about things that either may not happen or can not happen? I personally don't think we would create them if we didn't feel a small sense of hope that they were at least . . . possible.

Castles in the air can be built in reality. Not all of them certainly, but if we take the first steps toward at least one of them, we can build a foundation for our castle. It could be we are looking for a new job situation, or we would like to see ourselves living somewhere else, or we would like to become better at a certain talent or hobby that is important to us. Whatever it may be, I don't think that we should envision our lives without castles in the air.

These castles give us somewhere to go. If we've had a hard day, it's nice to have a "happy place." Maybe you see yourself at your favorite vacation place or picture yourself settled with a family and growing old with someone. It gives you something to build for, to plan for, to hope for, and when you've actually reached that place you've prepared for, you have accomplished something truly wonderful. You'll look back on your life and be satisfied.

On the spiritual side of things, we should envision our castles in the air in relation to eternity. St Teresa of Avila said, "I thought of the soul as resembling a castle, formed of a single diamond or a very transparent crystal, and containing many rooms, just as in Heaven there are many mansions." We should be building for our home in Heaven through virtue, prayer, and good works, which will make our soul beautiful and reflective of God's presence like a diamond reflects light.