Sunday, January 30, 2011

Say Cheese!

On Friday morning we met Father T., as well as his visiting sister and her family, at a local creamery (before continuing on to the chocolate factory) for a field trip!

Even though they were not making cheeses (at least not on the other side of the viewing window) at the time, the plant manager/head cheesemaker came out and gave us all an excellent presentation.  He explained the whole process in which they create their Worldwide Award Winning Handcrafted Artisan Cheeses!

First he explained how the milk comes from a local farm that the creamery works with exclusively.  The cows are fed a grass-based diet, so that the flavors of their milk reflect such freshness.  This is the first (and very important) step in their handcrafted process with has been resulting in both nationally and internationally recognized cheeses.  He then went on to tell us all about the actual process of making cheese, once the milk arrives at the creamery:

CUTTING ::  The vat is filled with fresh raw grass-based milk, cultures and mold. Then it is stirred by hand. Vegetable enzymes are added to coagulate it. After setting, it is cut with a cheese harp to make curds.

STIRRING ::  The curds are then hand-racked, shoveled and turned. This strengthens the individual curds and gives them integrity.

SALTING ::  Salt is added to the vat by hand.

DIPPING ::  A stainless steel bucket with holes is used to hand-draw the curds and pour them into hoops. The hoops are placed on drain tables and turned (by hand!) every 15 minutes until the curds have knitted into a wheel.

PERFORATING  ::  The wheels are placed in our caves and turned (by hand!) every day like champagne. After a period of time, the wheels are perforated. This allows mold to grow inside the wheel. 

AGING ::  The wheels are places into one of our four aging caves and turned (by hand!) daily.

WAXING ::  The wheels are pulled out of the cave after a period of time, then cleaned and waxed. The wheels are them put back into our caves and aged up to two years.

WRAPPING ::  The wheel is pulled from our caves when it has achieved the perfect level of mold and taste. The wax is stripped from the wheel and the cheese is wrapped (by hand!) in foil and cheese paper for the customer.

The Creamery's handcrafted blue cheeses have won numerous awards, including the prestigious World Cheese Award for best blue and first place in the American Cheese Society Competition.

After the presentation, my children all enjoyed tasting some of the cheeses.  Despite all the awards, they just didn't want to taste the moldy blue cheese, though they loved the original curds and cheddar samples.

We were all so impressed that this little local creamery has become one of the finest artisan cheese operations in the world today.  Their cheese is served on Air Force One, at the White House Inaugurations, and even to the Queen of England!  I think we might just have to stop by again one day soon to sample more of those delicious cheeses see them in operation.

It really was a great field trip, but I have promised my children that our next one will not involve "Moldy Cheese or Spicy Chocolate!"

Saturday, January 29, 2011

On the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

Prayer to St. Thomas Aquinas
O Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas, prince of theologians and guide of philosophers, bright ornament of the Christian world, light of the Church and patron of all Catholic schools, who has wisdom without deceit and did impart it without envy, pray for us to the Son of God who is Wisdom itself, that, by the coming of the Spirit of Wisdom, we may understand what you have taught and imitate what you have done, and that being made partakers of the wisdom and virtue in which you, while on earth, did ever shine, as the sun, we may last enjoy with you in heaven their sweetest fruits, praising the Divine Wisdom through endless ages. Amen.

Yesterday was the feast (on the new calendar) of St. Thomas Aquinas. It was a busy, yet fun-filled, day for our family, and we were very blessed to be able to spend most of it with Father T. and his visiting sister and her darling family!   The morning started with two field trips:  one was at a creamery and the other at a chocolate factory.   Then we attended Father's noon Mass before heading home for lunch, some school work, and to get ready to have them all join us for dinner.


Somewhere in the there we did mage to find time to color pictures of St. Thomas Aquinas and bake a delicious Gluten-Free Apple-Walnut Spice Cake for dessert, decorated with stars.

"The star, St. Thomas Aquinas' symbol, signifies the divine guidance given him in his work." ~ My Nameday: Come for Dessert

Our children had SO. MUCH. FUN. playing with their new friends until way, way past their bedtime, but were all still able to get up this morning to go back to town for Father's Saturday morning Mass.  Hopefully it won't be too long before we are able to have Father over again for dinner.  What a blessing it is to have him in our area!  

God our Father, you made Thomas Aquinas known for his holiness and learning. Help us to grow in wisdom by his teaching, and in holiness by imitating his faith. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

St. Thomas Aquinas, 
Patron of Students and Catholic Schools, 
Pray for Us!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Note to Self:

The next time you go on a field trip to an Artisan Chocolate Factory, it might be a good idea to turn any backwards signs around BEFORE giving all of your children a sample. . . Oops!  

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, visit Soulemama to leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Small Successes :: January 27, 2010

"It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that."

I haven't posted Small Successes since last November, but since I didn't have time for a Daybook this week, I thought I would post these instead.

~ 1 ~

I spent some time on Saturday working on a new header for Catholic Cuisine. I have received quite a few complaints about the layout this past year - some people are not able to see the sidebars, others would like the posts to have a white background for easier printing, etc.   It isn't that hard to change the actual template, but the problem was that the header which is currently being used is part of the actual template and cannot be transfered to another blogger template.   I did not want to hire/pay someone to create one for the blog... (Catholic Cuisine is a free site and we have never looked for sponsors or have had paid advertising on the blog.  Some posts do contain affiliate links, which pay a percentage if a purchase is made after someone clicks over, but that very small amount is the extent of any "income" that is generated from the blog.)  Anyhow, at the suggestion of a friend, I spent Saturday evening over at Picnik (what a fun site!)  trying to create a new header, using a painting of The Last Supper by Domenico Ghirlandaio.  I thought it turned out nice, but I am still nervous about actually making changes to the blog - it has been the same since I first created it back in 2008...  So, I thought I would give you all a sneak peek here first.   I'd love to hear whether or not you like it... ;)

~ 2 ~

The weather has been beautiful this week!  Mostly sunny, with highs around 55˚...  It is still chilly, but nice enough to go outside each afternoon.   On Monday the kids and I worked on cleaning up our yard and then I even took the initiative to figure out how to fire up Hubby's leaf blower, after filling it up with gas, to clear all the fallen pine needles off the driveway.  It's hard to pull start a leaf blower!

~ 3 ~

The girls and I spent most of Monday and Tuesday evenings cleaning and organizing their room again.  It could still use a bit more work, but we made pretty good progress.  We went through all of their clothes, pulling out what had been outgrown, filling a couple bags to donate, and sorting/organizing what was left.  We then organized all of their toys.   My favorite change was moving their Dollhouse and Fairy Forest Lodge, as well as all the accessories off the floor and into their armoire.   The girls are loving being able to leave their toys all set up and just close the doors so their sweet little sister can't get her hands on all of it when she sneaks into their room. ;)

Stop by Faith and Family Live to read more of this week's Small Successes.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul

If St. Paul's day be fair and clear,
It does betide a happy year;
But if by chance it snow or rain,
Then will be dear [expensive] all kinds of grain;
If clouds or mist do dark the skie,
Great store of birds and beasts shall die;
And if the winds do fly aloft,
Then war shall vex the kingdom oft.'  

We are enjoying an absolutely beautiful day here and will be headed outside to enjoy the sunshine soon! Before we go, here are a few ideas for today's feast day:


Coloring Pages and Activities:

Other Resources:

A Prayer for Conversions

O Blessed Apostle, St. Paul, greatest of all converts, who labored unceasingly for the conversion of other souls, inspire me with the ardor of your zeal that I may pray and work for the conversion of my brethren, redeemed in the Blood of Christ but not as yet blessed with the full light of His Truth. Mindful of the loving concern of the Divine Shepherd for the salvation of the “other sheep that are not of this fold,” I now beg your intercession to obtain the grace of conversion for (name of family member, friend or others). May God, the Holy Spirit from Whom alone this gift can come, hear my humble prayer and thus enable me to share with others the riches of my heritage of faith through Jesus Christ, Our Lord.  Amen.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Once Upon a Time...

I have a few extra minutes this afternoon and thought it would be fun to share a picture of what our home looked like when we first moved in nearly 11 years ago!  I remember the day my Dad called asking if we wanted to come and look at a "little house with so much potential" where he was doing some electrical work.  The sweet old woman who owned the home was planning on putting it up for sale so she could go and live with her daughter.  

Other than the paved driveway, I don't see anything in this picture that hasn't been changed.  The retaining walls behind the house are gone... In fact, that is where the kitchen, dining room, and family room are now!  All that dirt got moved around to the side, creating a level play area for our children.  The chimney is now covered with stone.  The little "deck," orange front door, windows, siding, roof, etc, have all been replaced.  Not to mention it has nearly tripled in size.

Thankfully our little home has grown with our family, because I just can't imagine trying to fit all eight of us into the little two bedroom house that used to be here.  Deo Gratias! 

"When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude."  ~ G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Little Flowers Girls' Club ~ Initiative

Yesterday afternoon we had our 3rd Little Flowers Girls' Club meeting for Wreath III, on the virtue of Initiative.  A few of the girls weren't able to make it this month, so we only had 5 girls attend.  (Actually we had 7 if you count Rose and Sweet Pea, who was wearing her adorable new Milo Vest!)   Nevertheless, it was a great meeting and we are already looking forward to our next one, which will be based on the virtue of Orderliness / Organization.  Hummm... Let's see if I can actually take the initiative and get the rest of the year planned out and organized before then, rather than waiting till the last minute like I did this month! ;)

Here is a quick overview of our meeting:

~ Coloring Pages ~

The girls had a whole bunch of great options for coloring pages:

St. Margaret of Scotland from Curmudgeonry
St. Margaret of Scotland from Waltzing Matilda
St. Margaret Paper Doll from Paper Dali
and St. Margaret of Scotland from Catholic Artworks Faith Keepers Combo CD

St. Margaret of Scotland Paper Dolls

Coloring pages by Chiquita and Twinkle Toes

~ Notebook Pages ~

After our lesson/discussion on the virtue of Initiative, and reading about St. Margaret of Scotland from  More Saints: Lives & Illuminations, the girls put together their scrapbook/notebook pages, I used the memory verse for Initiative, a quote from St. Francis of Assisi that tied in well with Initiative, a quote from St. Margaret's Confessor (Thank you Charlotte!), an image of St. Margaret of Scotland, and a couple images of Black Eyed Susans. You can download my document here.

Here is a picture of the sample page I created:
(The yellow scanned in a lot brighter than the original "Golden Yellow.")

Here are the girl's completed pages for this "Initiative":

~ Craft :: Chore Charts ~

I decided to have the girls make chore charts for this virtue, since they are a great way to teach children to be self-motivated and take the initiative to complete their responsibilities, as well as learn important life skills and principles.  

Chore Chart Supplies:
  • Card Stock
  • Chore Chart Printout (If you would like a copy, you can download my Word Document here, though you will have to modify the fonts, using ones on your computer.   Or here is PDF option, with the name spot blank.)
  • Glue Sticks
  • Laminator and Laminating Pouches (I have the Purple Cow Laminator from Costco and have loved it so far, but the Scotch one on Amazon has better reviews.) 
  • Magnetic Dry Erase Markers  (They are actually cheaper at Amazon then what I paid locally, though it doesn't look like they have the best reviews.  Another option would be to attach a piece of velcro to any dry erase marker and to the chart.)
  • Magnet Strips (or old refrigerator magnets)

~ Snack Time ~

Orange Muffins (our meeting fell on the feast of Our Lady of Altagracia) topped with Cream Cheese Frosting, to be decorated by the Little Flowers with homemade Black Eyed Susan Chocolates and the options of green mint meltaways, green color mist and/or green glitter gel. 

As usual, the girls had so much fun decorating their cupcakes!  They all looked so cute wearing their Wreath III Little Flowers' aprons, which they had just finished ironing on all their Little Flower Friends names to the apron strings (as a review for our last meeting) since "Friends hold you up!"

I wasn't sure about the chocolate "Black-Eyed Susan" flowers I had made at first, but they sure looked cute on top of the cupcakes and the girls loved them!

St. Margaret of Scotland help us initiate good change.

St. Therese, the Little Flower, 
pray for us!