Moment by Moment

For three weeks we’ve been battling one domestic dilemma after another. From colds, to migraines, to coughs, to infections. Trying to homeschool a sleeping boy has been difficult (cough, cough through the night, and sleep, sleep during the day). Trying to tend to others when I’ve been unwell myself has been interesting. (My bed has looked so inviting, that I’ve stopped walking by my room.) Cleaning, washing, nursing, slogging back and forth to the pharmacy, making herbal concoctions, and canceling everything. It has been a moment by moment world.

Somehow, in the midst of the madness, we had a Sunday birthday celebration. (Built two birdhouses with papa, goofed around with grandpa, carved a happy pumpkin with grandma [while I slept] made homemade pizza, and roasted marshmallows in the fireplace.)

Somehow, Halloween came and went. Our neighborhood, for better or for worse, is Halloween Central. I get to greet all the little, amazing, beautiful children at our front door and look into their eyes and laugh with them. But it’s true that we have a witch who lives next door. She loves frightening all the little people–so we took her a batch of rosemary rolls yesterday–as a peace-keeping measure–because John Ronan, now that he realizes this, isn’t liking living next door to a part-time witch.

And somewhere in there I managed to bake two wonderful, delicious loaves of pumpkin bread. See, it isn’t all laundry and scrubbing.

And seriously, living moment by moment is one of mankind’s better inspirations. Focusing all my energy on one little sick person, or on one task, has transported this ever-healing phrase from the deep places of my heart, up through whatever nerves carry prayers, and has landed it on my whispering lips,

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.

My Never-Been-to-Maine Pumpkin Bread

First off–I have to admit that I’ve never been to Maine. I have been to Vermont, and stayed in an old farm house, and that’s close, right? And I have a friend from Maine… And my husband vacationed in Maine when he was a boy…

Anyway, I’ve adapted a very popular web-recipe: the Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread found here. The recipe was so good–almost perfect–that I wanted to share it with all of you. I’ve fiddled with it to increase the spice punch, decreased the amount of sugars, added a bit of whole wheat flour and orange juice and zest, and I’ve increased the baking time. The bread stays moist and super delicious for days. It’s a wonderful bread for giving…

Time Commitment: Half hour to assemble ingredients and mix, and another hour to bake.

Tools you need:

  • Two loaf pans
  • Cooking spray
  • an oven :)
  • large bowl and wooden spoon, plus measuring cups and utensils…

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water and orange juice mixed (or just water)
  • zest of one orange
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (you can use all white if you don’t have any whole wheat)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
What to do:

Step One: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix wet ingredients in a bowl along with the sugars. (Regarding the OJ/water mixture: Zest one orange, then squeeze the juice into a measuring cup. Add water to the cup until you have 1/2 cup of liquid.)

Step Two: Add spices first, then flour, salt and soda. Stir round and round and round and round…

Step Three: Place the two loaf pans in the center of the oven and bake for 65-70 minutes. Do the knife-through-the-center trick to check for doneness…

Step Four: Let the loaves cool. (Make yourself a pot of tea, call a friend to join you.)

Step Five: Enjoy!


Saint Brigid and Her Feast

Mixed and baked two loaves of my Never-Been-to-Maine Pumpkin Bread (recipe coming later this week–you’re gonna love it!)

Gave one loaf to an old schoolmate just diagnosed with cancer 😦

Researching and writing The Life of Saint Brigid: Abbess of Kildare was one of the most rewarding writing experiences I’ve had yet. Not only did I enjoy getting to know fifth century Ireland, learning about the foods and habits of people of that time and about the budding days of Christianity where the people were so receptive to Christ’s love–but I absolutely came to admire this young girl named Brigid–this open-hearted daughter of a slave, who loved man and beast, rich and poor, and who always held Christ foremost in her heart.

Celebrating her feast day each year has enriched our lives and brought about some good and healthy family fun, plus a lot of introspection….So much of celebrating Saint Brigid happens on the eve of her feast day–January 31st… and yesterday being that day, I’d like to share with you some of what went on.

First, I read the story of Saint Brigid to our little one early in the day. We cuddled and he asked questions, and that set the tone for all that happened afterward. In the late afternoon, we baked, making pumpkin bread to share, and Saint Brigid oatcakes for our meal, placing a portion for her on the windowsill.

For our evening meal we ate roasted chicken (fifth century folk did a lot of roasting on feast days) and made colcannon, a traditional potato, leek, cabbage mixture. There were the Saint Brigid oatcakes, too, along with honey butter and jams. I had a few sips of ale too, which made me feel especially Irish.

And after dinner we washed up, then prepared the table for making crosses. John Ronan and I broke the seed heads off the stalks, we soaked the stalks in warm water for about an hour, then brought everyone to the table and started weaving. Morgan, our favorite neighbor friend joined us. She wanted me to make sure I mentioned how she was part of the cross weaving gang!

I was the weaving manager, giving lessons round the table. My husband and daughter are especially proficient, making better crosses than I can, but the two boys struggled. Andrew threw several wheat shafts up into the air after an attempt or two, and John Ronan, using pipe cleaners, still fumbled and didn’t quite get the gist of it. Morgan, a perfectionist at times, also spent a bit of time moaning about her non-cooperative fingers. But we didn’t give up! Aid arrived, and everyone ended up making something that resembled a cross. John Ronan was so proud of his creation that we immediately hung it over his bed. Love the way little people think with their hearts…

So on this beautiful day of the feast of Saint Brigid, I leave you with this prayer of hers that I love…

O God, bless my pantry!

Pantry which the Lord has blessed.

Mary’s Son, my friend,

come and bless my pantry!