Monday, 31 December 2012

2013 A Look Forward

"Share with the Lord the burden of all thy doings, if thou wouldst be sincere in thy intent." Proverbs 16:3

I haven't done actual resolutions in years, in fact I have never really done resolutions but in recent years (the 2 or 3) I have a list of thing I look forward too in the new year. New things or experiences I want to try, ways in which I would like to grow and stuff I would like to happen.

My list always contains at least one sure thing so that way if nothing else happens on the list I would still have accomplished something. For 2011 I put take a cruise after I was already booked on one since early December 2010, easy peasy something accomplished. I also need to put something that is unlikely to happen, if it happens super great, if it doesn't I'm okay with it and the other items that don't happen won't be so bad. It's my logic and it works for me.

Something that I have no control over and that I know I have no control over it. It will keep me humble and remind me to pray and seek the Lord at all times. Something that you are already working on but have not gotten very far because seriously if I am not already made a step in the direction of keeping my room clean putting it on a list for 2013 is not going to make it happen. Something simple that I'm starting from scratch but doesn't take an over the top amount of commitment, I tried surfing in 2011 and I only did it once but that was all I needed because that was the goal to try it. I suck at it by the way I have no balance but I liked boogie boarding so I got something out of the experience. I also tried ice-skating which I loved even though again I have no balance but I know I will do it again.

Something that will happen early in the year and something that will happen later. If you lack patience like me you don't want to have to wait too long to get something crossed off but you also don't want everything crossed off before the year really gets going either.

Somethings I am looking forward to in 2013

Trying to a good blogger. Between everything that I have going on I am not going to put too much pressure on myself so I am going to set a goal of at least 2 posts a week.

Continue to grow. Spiritually, emotionally and mentally. It's rather vague but sometimes I have no idea how I needed to grow until after I have.

Suffer Lent patiently. Every Lent I give up meat totally because I already do not eat meat on Fridays. However I HATE cooking fish, I love fish just not when I have to make it and I end up grousing and unhappy for a little more than 6 weeks taking away from anything I may gain from the penitential period. 2013 I am going to plan a lot in advance, put things in place that I can still eat without being resentful.

Get better organized around the house. This is something I started doing in 2012 but still need a few tweaks and improvements.

Do more freezer cooking. Also something I started doing in 2012 and has been a great help in reducing wastage and making it easier after a hard day at work.

Organize my crafts and do more sewing and crocheting. I only recently started sewing but I have let my crocheting really slide, I have a couple work in progress to finish and I want to start something new.

Try new recipes. One thing I really wanted to do when I finally got my own kitchen was to cook and bake more while trying new things. I really fell down on that in 2012 so in 2013 I wanted to try at least one new recipe a month. Caveat, it counts a new if I have never cooked it on my own before.

Read or reread a few classics this year (Little House Books are definitely Classics in my book). I gave up thrashy novels last in 2012 (nothing of the 50 s.hade variety) and I have discovered Christian Romance Novels. I really like the new focus of my downtime but I also want to get back to the books that got me hooked on reading in the first place Heidi, Little Women, Secret Garden, anything by Austen.

This getting long so I think I'll stop here. 2012 you have been fun, sad, happy, exhilarating, and renewing. 2013 I look forward to what you will bring.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

2012 A Look Back

I started doing this a few years ago after having a very up and down year because although I couldn't help but acknowledge the bad I also wanted to celebrate the good. When things are bad it is often hard to remember the good.

I got my heart broken. Which turned out to be a bad and surprisingly a great thing.

I am studying my Catholic Faith more. This was actually on my 2012 A look forward list so I accomplished or am accomplishing something I set out to do this year.

I started learning to sew and am actually doing okay with it. I won't be signing up for Project Runway anytime soon but I like where I'm at.

I am getting betting at meal planning and freezer cooking. I love to cook but sometimes it can be time consuming and there are the days where I can't think of anything I actually want so this has really been a help.

I started a blog. Well if you are reading this I'll let you judge how that is going.

I didn't get to travel at all this year, not that I am a frequent traveler or anything but I really wanted to go to a few events this year but for differing reasons that did not happen but I'm okay with that. Next year God willing I already have a few irons on the fire that I will get to go to a few.

I am putting myself out there, being a little more outgoing, trying new things without my friends around for back up. I took a cooking class and made a friend.

I am trying to be a little more organized in my home life. I started a home management binder, I have put all my recipes into another binder and I am working on keeping a cleaning schedule. It's something I am still working on but hope to improve and tweak in 2013.

I joined pinterest (yes I know I'm late to the party, very late I only joined less than 2 months ago) and I am slightly hooked. Recipe and craft ideas abound, I have to think of a 12, 52, 13 or something things to do in 2013.

I have learned how to run a house. It is very easy to have an idea in the abstract but living it is so very different. I have tried my hand at plumbing and minor repairs, problem solving when I'm not quite sure what the problem is.

I have survived a year of living with my sister, there is no child I could ever have (knock on wood) that could be a pickier eater. I'm not sure if it is a good or bad thing that we are so close to my mother and grandmother in this case.

I got an android phone, which I love and is making my Faith life uber accessible. I have Catholic Radio, Liturgy of the Hours, Mass Readings, prayers, bibles, etc all on one device to take with me wherever I go. I'm also going a little crazy "with friends" hanging, scramble, words. Plus I have twitter, pinterest, facebook, email and blogs.

2012 has been an amazing year. There have been disappoints, surprises both good and bad, growing (lots of growing), joys, cheers, celebrations, losses and gains. I look forward to what 2013 brings.

Friday, 28 December 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday #4 The Last QT For 2012

--- 1 ---
I love singing (stumbling over the words) O Come All Ye Faithful in Latin. It's a tradition for all our Christmas Masses starting with Christmas Vigil. I had an added treat when Fr started singing it after Christmas Eve morning Mass and of course it was sung at Vigil Mass.
--- 2 ---

My favourite present this year is 

   It is actually part of a present, on each side of the dice is a prayer or a scripture.

--- 3 ---
I have 3 Christmas parties/lunch/dinner that I'm supposed to attend today. Not sure how I'm going to accomplish all that or if I will. The dinner is a definite God Willing but the others are up for grabs. Yeah for people who celebrate Christmas in Christmas but boo for everyone picking the same day.
--- 4 ---
My baby sister/really my cousin is turning 18 on Sunday, can't believe she is 18 already. I was given the task of naming her, I remember I was at a party at two of my friends (twins) from school and when I was finally picked up (I think I was momentarily forgotten in the baby excitement) I was told I could pick the name (consolation prize for being forgotten).
--- 5 ---
I have been living in leftover heaven. I like to cook but I LOVE when I just have to use the microwave as well. Between Christmas leftovers, visiting family and some stuff I had frozen already I only cooked yesterday and don't plan to again until Sunday. I wanted to make a pizza tomorrow and still might or leave it until next Saturday
--- 6 ---
I am still listening to Christmas music. I am perfectly fine listening to other music but I am trying to have at least five Christmas songs a day besides what I hear at Mass. A few radio stations are still playing them so between local radio, tune-in and iheartradio on my phone I am reaching and beating my quota. I need to hear Christmas music because IT'S STILL CHRISTMAS!!!
--- 7 ---
Happy New Year to all Quick Takers!!!!!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Tis The Day....

.... before Christmas and all through this house every creature is stirring but hopefully no mouse.

Today is a busy day, this should be posting while I'm at Mass this morning and then hopefully I'll get some time in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel because I do need my time with Jesus before I get sucked into this day of hustle and bustle.

I have a lot to accomplish before leaving for Vigil Mass and then dinner after I return. Yea tomorrow is Christmas!!!!

I have bread to make, it may be just my sister and I in this apartment but I also need to make bread for my grandmother and mother who are our neighbours (no we didn't go very far, but hey it's family land a.k.a free), my cousin and my uncle who while doesn't live there most certainly eats there. I love making bread so I don't mind, I just need to make sure my timing is right.

I have a load or two of laundry that I want to get done, floors to sweep and mop. The dreaded bathroom to clean. Gifts to wrap including a gift for exchange after Vigil Mass, a tree to decorate (he may be small but it does take time), the star goes on at midnight. Christmas meal prep to do, I like to get cheese grated, carrots diced, grated, julienned, whatever in advance so that I am not stuck in the kitchen the whole day while everyone else is about enjoying the day. Our kitchen opens right into our living room but you still miss out when you're stuck doing stuff. If you guessed by all of this that my sister doesn't cook you would be correct, she does make great rice though so I should give her some props.

I finally got a Last Supper picture that I need to put up. We are limited in wall space and I already have a Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart up so we don't have much space for a large Last Supper and somehow they tend to come large, beautiful but LARGE. I finally found a small one that I can work with, a little smaller than I really wanted but it works.

Bake my cake, I do not have my grandmother's recipe for blackcake so last year I came up with my own fruit pound (pound fruit cake??) it was a hit so I am making it again this year with a few slight moderations (I did not write down measurements last year but I do have close approximates (with the bought ingredients I was able to make the cake for both Christmas and New Year's, yes it was that good). My grandmother has a very unscientific method for testing that cake batter has the right proportion of liquid and dry ingredients she has never been wrong yet, here's hoping it works for me.

Finally I have to sit back enjoy my tree, my twinkling lights, the neighbours' twinkling lights, try to beat my cousins in sending out the Merry Christmas text (they are 17, 18 and 19, it's a fight I have lost since they first got cell phones). Have a glass of sorrel, a slice of my grandmother's black cake and wish Jesus a Happy Birthday.

O and track Santa on that website, somehow he always gets to Point Fortin which is way south of the island but no where else in the country.


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Our Christmas Tree

Our Christmas tree is a mighty tree, all 2 feet of him. Last year my sister and I moved into our new place on Christmas Adam (the day before Christmas Eve) so we had no Christmas anything, work was still being done on the place, the tile guy was still working at midnight on Christmas Eve. We had bought lights and a few decorations but were to tired to put anything up by the time everything was said and done.

We had one sign on our front door and our mighty little Christmas tree to bring a little Christmas cheer to our home. I don't have any pictures of last year but he was the most haphazard, happy looking thing ever by the time we had put up all his tiny little decorations.

This year he is not a stand in until we get something better, he is our Christmas tree. My sister and I discussed getting a bigger tree, I because I kinda like our little tree, her for other reasons.

As per not quite yet a tradition he will go up on Christmas Eve and he'll probably stay past Epiphany again or maybe I'll be a little more efficient next year.

A little child came to be the light and Saviour of our world and my little tree brings a whole lot of Christmas cheer to our home.

Friday, 21 December 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday #3

--- 1 ---
I am back at work after a month off for paid vacation. I am only back for three days for the rest of this year, yesterday, next week Thursday and week after Tuesday for 1/2 day. Today is a day off for me, Christmas and Boxing Days are holidays and I'm taking a day next Friday.
--- 2 ---
2013 is already looking busy and it has not even started yet. At work we already have an impossible deadline that my supervisor thinks we can meet but I see as a time killer too early in the New Year.
--- 3 ---
I am working on my timelines for Christmas and New Year's Day. Timelines for me are lifesavers for busy times. I love knowing what I will be working on at 1 pm on Christmas Eve and exactly how long I am giving myself to clean the bathroom. Why yes I am a little OCD....
--- 4 ---
We are having guests for New Year's. The recent widow of my sister's friend who died a couple months ago, an aunt, some cousins and my best friend. No pressure what so ever. Oh and we don't actually have a dinner table.
--- 5 ---
I don't follow recipes exactly and I almost never make something the exact same way twice. My sister loves my corn casserole and my aunt had it last year and raved about it, I hope they still like it with my changes because I don't remember how I changed the recipe last New Year's.
--- 6 ---
I am officially sick. The flu 1. Me 0. But I have about 4 days to change that, I WILL NOT BE SICK for Christmas.
--- 7 ---
MERRY CHRISTMAS to all Quick Takers!!!!!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Christmas in Trinidad and Tobago: The preparations

Whirlwind. Chaos. Calamity.

Words to describe preparation for Christmas in Trinidad. At least that's what I thought my house was growing up. Most Trinidadian housewives "turn down", "turn up" then "put away" their houses before Christmas (i.e make it total inhospitable to the kids who live there) so that it will look brand new for Christmas and it does but I'll get to that.

Schools in Trinidad close for "vacation" a whole week to a week and half before Christmas to give enough time for the children to be home to help their parents, at least that's what parents tell themselves and the kids. If you have a parent or grandparent or great-grandparent like my grandmother that means you have a million ornaments/ornamental pieces to clean and not break anyone because they are all older than you. Glassware, plates, and silverware that has never been used except for decoration and display also need to be clean and once again not be broken because of course they are older than you also.

Painting was fun if not messy because many Trinis paint every year, some every few years but most when painting choose Christmas. We didn't do much painting but I am intimately familiar with furniture varnish because while many Trinis used Christmas to get new my grandmother believed in preserving with I actually like.   If you have a major renovation most people also choose the months leading up to Christmas.

Most Trinidadians didn't actually finish setting up for Christmas until well Christmas. This is changing and many people are finishing everything earlier but as a kid I could go to sleep at midnight Christmas Eve with something still in the oven baking, my mother or grandmother cleaning something, and an assortment of other chaos going on throughout the house, then wake up on Christmas morning to a whole new house. This has always made Christmas magical to me, I have always been the first person to get up on Christmas morning and at 4:30 or 5 everything is still dark out, the house is quiet and you just a whole new world to what you last saw when you went to sleep a few hours ago. The furniture is rearranged, new (or haven't been seen in a few years) curtains are up, the Christmas lights are on, the house still has a faint whiff of baking and a reverent silence.

I was never the kid to rush presents, I always preferred the experience of Christmas and waking up on Christmas morning. It always annoyed my sister that I didn't open my presents until the afternoon but the experience of what I was waking up to was the best present I got everyday. I know what Christmas looks and smells like and that memory is a present that lasts a lifetime.

To read the other two post in my Christmas in Trinidad mini series try here and here.

Monday, 17 December 2012

O Antphons

Today the Church begins the ancients custom of  praying daily one of the seven "O" Antiphons, prayed 17-23 December.

Today is the eighth day before Christmas, we're in the final countdown to Christmas. In these the final days of preparation for the celebration of  Christmas we are given a greater opportunity to reflect. If you attend Daily Mass you will hear them as the verse for the Gospel Acclamation, in the Liturgy of the Hours they are the anthiphon before and after the Magnificat for Vespers, you can also just pray them as part of your devotions during Advent maybe with the lighting of the Advent wreath. The O Antiphons not only highlight titles for the Messiah but each one also refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah.

O Sapientia (Wisdom). Is 11:2-3, Is 28:29
O Adonai (Lord). Is 11:4-5, Is 33:22
O Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse). Is 11:1, Is 11:10
O Clavis David (Key of David). Is 9:6, Is 22:22
O Oriens (Dayspring or Radiant Dawn). Is 9:1
O Rex Gentium (King of Nations). Is 2:4, Is 9:5
O Emmanuel (God is with us). Is 7:14

Fun fact, the first letters of the titles read in reverse order form the Latin word Ero Cras which means "I will be with you tomorrow".

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Waiting For The Light

Into our darkness, arise, O Sun of Justice!

Friday was a dark day. It was a hard and numbing day.

Yesterday was a difficult day, I was sick and I had most of my Christmas shopping to do. Heavy bags, heavy sinuses, a toothache, crowds, lines, cashiers who got the prices wrong, headlines and talk about Friday. Two stores I went into had only one worker each, granted they are just small Catholic book and novelty stores but they usually have help and are not that crowded. In that moment all I felt was frustrated and tired. When I got home I remembered the whole reason I was doing all this, it wasn't for me.

Today we are reminded to rejoice. Gaudete means rejoice. In my reflection this morning I was reminded that the Lord commands us not only to rejoice sometimes, but always (Phil 4:4) and that it doesn't mean that we rejoice over all things but that we rejoice in the Lord under all circumstance. Because the Lord is our Joy and the circumstances are not.

So I  can rejoice in the Lord and thank Him for the heavy bags because that means I was able to get the things that I needed. I can rejoice in the Lord and thank Him for the crowds because although everyone may not fully understand why they are celebrating and rejoicing they do acknowledge that this is a time to celebrate and be generous. I can rejoice in the Lord and thank Him when I am tired because I got a lot accomplished and it just a few things less that I have to do tomorrow.

I can also rejoice in the Lord that my title no longer matches what my post is about. I sat down to write about that pink candle and John giving us a glimpse of what is to come and light coming into the darkness but God had another plan and I can rejoice in that.

Friday, 14 December 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday: #2

--- 1 ---
I took a cooking class on Saturday. I surprised myself and was very outgoing and personable instead of my usual introvert, pray I'm not called on self. I actually was the first person to volunteer to do something so Yay me!!
--- 2 ---
After Mass on Saturday morning for the Feast of The Immaculate Conception we had a special breakfast organized by Father. Since it is the Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception it is their Feast Day, it was a nice touch since we are currently misplaced since the Cathedral is undergoing renovations and we are using the annex of the school. This was my parish as a child now it's just my Daily Mass parish.
--- 3 ---
I continued my Christmas in Trinidad series, this time about the food. In writing I googled "pelau" not exactly sure what I wanted, an explanation I could link back to or a picture and I found a recipe on epicurious one of my favourite sites for finding recipes so I linked that instead. It's not a perfect recipe but very passable.
--- 4 ---
I had tacos on Wednesday in honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe. When I first made the decision to be more active in celebrating the Saints of Advent, I initially thought elaborate and overboard but then I realized that sometimes simple is best.
--- 5 ---
I sewed my Christmas apron this week. Since I have started learning how to sew I have been going a little apron crazy because for me they are the easiest patterns to follow I didn't even need to read the directions so in the last 2 weeks I have made 4 half aprons and 3 whole aprons using the half apron pattern and adding the top. The Christmas apron is an all in one so I didn't know how to do that then I got my free apron from Nestle and bam I have another apron.
--- 6 ---
I will be giving aprons as Christmas presents to a few people since I currently have a surplus.
--- 7 ---
I have yet to start my Christmas shopping. I put some serious thought into my gifts and I haven't been getting any inspiration this year, usually I have an idea of what I am getting for most people early in the year but this year I am beyond stuck.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

A Light for St Lucy

This year for Advent I am trying to celebrate all the Feast Days in a special way, some are easier to accomplish than others. For St Nicholas I just gave a little extra at collection to honour his generosity and I had chocolate, although I'm not sure that exactly counts.

For the Immaculate Conception I prayed a Novena leading up, attended Mass of course. For Our Lady of Guadalupe I prayed JP II prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe and had Mexican food, tacos. I also had a great reflection on the conversation between Our Lady and Juan Diego.

For St Lucy I am lighting a candle throughout the day as reminder to pray, to remember and reflect on the light of the world that we are patiently preparing for throughout Advent.

Prayer to St Lucy

Saint Lucy,
Whose beautiful name
Signifies light, By the light of Faith
Which God bestowed upon you,
Increase and preserve
His light in my soul,
So that I may avoid evil,
Be zealous in the performance
Of good works,
And abhor nothing
So much as the blindness
And the darkness
Of evil and sin.

Obtain for me,
By your Intercessory
With God,
Perfect vision
For my bodily eyes
And the grace to use them
For God's greater honor
And glory
And the salvation of souls.

St. Lucy,
Virgin and martyr,
Hear my prayers
And obtain my petitions.


Christmas in Trinidad and Tobago: The Food

Food in Trinidad at Christmas time is out of this world, a bellyache waiting to happen cause you just can't seem to help yourself from trying just one more thing about a million times. Songs have been sung about it. The crazy obsessive serious cooks start somewhere about June soaking their fruits for the black cake. You make it your business to know who have the "sweet hand" for everything so you could make a pass during the season and take a taste, don't forget to take some home for later. Most of these food are only available or seen at Christmas time - black cake, sorrel, ginger beer, pastelle, they may hang around until carnival but these food signal that Christmas is near or here.

Black cake the star of any Trini Christmas. A good black cake is good for ten years, I am very serious, the fruits in the black cake soak in alcohol no less than two weeks and as I said before some soak it since June and even much longer. Christmas is not Christmas without black cake and everybody's grandmother makes the best one. My grandmother doesn't measure she makes it by know and no one else in the family knows how. Our family makes our black cake on Christmas Eve night or the night before but you can also buy it but what self-respecting Trini don't know how to make black cake, well me but I don't have to yet.

Pastelles. This is a cornmeal Pattie filled with minced beef seasoned with capers, olives and raisins (or craisins if you are being modern). This is very yum, I didn't like much as a child but my tastes have since refined. The minced beef can be replaced with chicken, pork, fish, veges, soya, or any protein you can think of I suppose. No one in my family actually makes this we buy or are gifted (I have a friend whose sister makes it incredibly well). Traditionally these were made and pressed and wrapped in banana leaves for boiling, many people just wrap in foil now and the trees are super thankful.

Ham. I prefer turkey myself but in Trinidad, Christmas is ham and back in the old, old days like before my grandmother was born (and during her childhood too) this was made by boiling a salt ham in a pitch oil pan. This was done by setting up firestones in the backyard, I have never seen it done but I hear there are places in the country and deep south that still do it that way. Now it's a picnic ham done in the oven decorated with cloves and pineapple rings for baking. Served with chow chow on some home made bread, yum even if I do prefer turkey.

Sorrel. My favourite Christmas drink, those little red berries I guess you can call them are boiled, cooled and sweetened to make the best drink ever. You have to remove the top and the green pod in the center. I remember having to do that a thousand times give or take a couple thousand every year. This year I discovered black sorrel, I have no idea how long that has been around but I am anxious to try it on Christmas.

Gingerbeer. The other drink, the one I don't like. It's a spicy drink made from the ginger root, it is also boiled and then left to ferment, cure or whatever else you can call the process in a glass container for a while before it is sweetened.

Ponche de Creme or as it is fondly referred to puncha crema. This is similar to eggnog I guess but it is so it's own creation. Eggs, condensed milk, evaporated milk, nutmeg, bitters, and rum, lots and lots of rum. I have been helping to make this since before I was allowed to drink it, one rule you use good Angostura rum and only Angostura bitters, you have to keep it local after all.

Homemade Bread. Garlic pork. Pear Drax, a pear-flavoured pop but it is so much better than that. Trinidad is the only place in the world where it’s brewed and it is only available in stores in the month maybe two leading up to Christmas. Last year I was stalking the drink it sells out that fast.

And for New Year's because here in Trinidad we celebrate Christmas going straight to January 6th even though Carnival creeps in on December 26th, black eye peas or pigeon peas. Whether it's cooked in a pelau or stewed to the side, Trinis have to have peas at the Old Year's night lime or sometime on New Year's Day to start the year right.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Cooking Class

Saturday I took a free cooking class offered by Nestle. It was fun. It was in the afternoon about 2 and many people didn't show up. I am usually the stay in a corner and don't draw too much attention to myself but since I was the 2nd person to arrive I started talking to the first person and we got on well she brought her daughter with her, that little girl made me feel like a chatter box she was so quiet and well behaved.

I was the first person to volunteer to do something, it was supposed to be an interactive class with everyone cooking but some of the participants just sat there, I was a little disappointed by that. We made focaccia bread, fish roll-ups, apples and grapes salad (aka waldorf salad), and cookies and cream truffles (YUM).

I was first up prepping and kneading the dough, I have a slight obsession with dough and bread that I may write about sometime, so I was in heaven. I also rolled fish for the roll-up, not to happy about that with my aversion to anything raw but I wore gloves so I was pleased.

Everything tasted great. I had 2nds and thirds of the salad. The focaccia was whole wheat and the little girl had two pieces. Every thing was kid approved.

I like fish but hate to cook it, now I have a great recipe to use plus I can substitute the fish for chicken. This is great because I don't eat meat on Fridays so now I have some thing I can use that doesn't come from a can or is cheese.

Now the pictures

 My 1st plate and salad

 Ready to serve

 Ready to serve

 Goody Bags

 The fish roll up post baking

 Decorating the truffles

 The focaccia pre baking

 The fish roll up pre baking, I did that

 Explaining about toasting nuts

 Chocolate going on the truffles

 The Chef, forgot what she is doing here

 Some of our ingredients

 The kitchen or at least part of it