Chicago Style Italian Beef

It is so good you will be thinking about it the next day…..5 ingredients, easy to make, and its cheaper than flying to Chicago. :)
Be prepared, this Italian Beef will KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF. I made it over the weekend for a dinner party and it was a huge hit.
The taste is memorable…

Here is what you will need: 
2lb. Beef Roast (I used Rump Roast but you can use Arm or Chuck Roast too)
2 packets of Italian Seasoning
2 beef boullion cubes (1 per pound of meat)
1 cup water (or a 1/2 cup per pound of meat)
1 small jar banana peppers (undrained)
Half Green and Red Pepper chopped (optional)
Throw the roast into your crockpot. Wix the Italian Seasonings into the water and pour over roast. Toss in banana peppers and green and red peppers if using. Turn on High for the first hour and then low for 4 hours. The meat will be extremely tender and juicy.
Watch as strangers and friends start flocking to your kitchen wanting to know what smells so amazing.

On a cutting board or platter, thinly slice meat and pour some of juice over.
Place on chibata or french bread for sandwiches or just serve alone.
Serves 12 (Dinner party size)
Half the recipe for a family!
It is a dinner that will bring many to your table so….Eat SLOW, take your time so as to SAVOR every bite, and ENJOY the dinner that brings you together. :)
My Food Philosophy: Because the effort to make good food is a gift to those around me, it’s happy memories, togetherness, the living part of life.


Starting the Silence

It is no secret I love Lent.  I always have.

But before I go into Lent, let me just say I dutifully partook in Fat Tuesday festivities and ate this jolly doughnut and kept alive our family tradition. Anna, Tricia, Angela, Joe, Jana and Madeline....this one's for you :)


Avila got the memo it was Fat Tuesday and tried to shut herself in the fridge.

So it starts tomorrow. Whoot! Whoot!

In past years I've given up things like music, cheese and butter, potatoe chips, coffee, and taken lukewarm showers. They were all painfully hard on the will and body.

Over the past few weeks, it has been a running theme, and slowly, has grown into a tug in my heart: to let go of distractions, a desire to "see" and "hear" as Christ wants me to "see" and "hear".

I was reading a fascinating story about St. Scholastica and St. Benedict, sibling saints, in the back of the Magnificat this month. But this stood out to me:

"Faith that works wonders begins with a listening heart. It is no coincidence that the first word in the Rule of Saint Benedict is "Listen"!

So this year for Lent I get to go on a three day Ignatious SILENT retreat :) There is nothing so spiritually powerful. 

But for the other 40 days...

The Fast:
Fasting from the Internet. I am so excited for this. I wanted to choose something difficult, but not impossible. So gone are the pinterest images and ideas, blogs, browsing clothing, shoes, and shirts, facebook notifications and email messages.

If God speaks in the silence, then a fast from all the stimulation, noise, and constant feed will allow me to listen.

The Prayer: 
 Andrew and I, usually do something as a couple for Lent. This year, we are joing four other couples after Mass for brunch and bible study together. Since it's the year of faith, it is a good way for me to start reading the catechism and bible more through the study.

The Almsgiving:
I am helping lead a bible study with about 20 other Catholic women in our town. While it may look like another form of prayer, having to clean my house and devote an extra week night to this is not without its difficulties and mostly demands of giving time. I'm so lucky to have such great support from other Catholic women and excited do to Fr. Robert Barron's bible study called "Conversion". It's a six week study on biblical stories of Conversion, like Bartemaeus and the Women at the Well. What I've listened to so far is STELLAR!!

But all this...all this Lent is to refocus, take time out to center my life on Christ. In the end, that's all that matters :)
Until Easter....Happy Lent!



It's coming. The other day it climbed to mid 50 degrees and we walked outside without our coats on...

So the next day when it turned cold and windy again, I almost bought a plane ticked to Florida, planned a sister weekend for May, and called my mom about visiting the first week we get out of school.

Nine days into February, I find myself slightly ready for Spring.

I was smiling ear to ear looking at the stem shooting out in defiance of winter's death. It's funny, I can be surprised every time.

In the cold and dark, it's like two month fast from earth's beauties and pleasures. Winter does produce a gift of its own, after the absence, I can see and hear in joy what I once took for granted.

Just the common Cedar Waxwing, but when the earth has been silentand  lifeless for months, the chirping was startling to hear.

 I'm a total bird nerd taking pictures of them.  BUT, it was a sign that God always is faithful, makes the sun rise every morning and every year, without fail, flowers bloom, and birds come back, and the earth is warm again, even when it seems it never will.

 We got out our bicycles, walked around the block, swung on the swings, and played tag....and of course grilled out.

We are summer by nature here.


Baby Shower: On the Farm

Over the weekend, my friend Marci and I hosted a baby shower for our friend Leanne who is due with her first in March. Her husband comes from a long line of farmers and she works in the farming industry as well.

What could be more fitting for a baby shower in the middle of Kansas, other than a "FARM" theme?!

It was so fun to get to come up with fun crafts and goodies for it.

The Menu:
"Farm Fresh" Chocolate covered Strawberries
Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Vegetable "Trough"
Ma"moo"sa Drink Bar: Strawberry Orange, Grapefruit, and Orange Juice Mimosas

chocolate covered strawberries displayed in an egg carton

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes with Carboard Animal Cutouts

Mason Jars tied with gingham and twine and a striped straws

The Decorations:

Kept them to a minimal. Some twine, burlap, and blue gingam ribbon here and there.

Her house had beautiful rustic details: stone fireplace, wooden ceiling beams and island bar, and wood flooring.

I drew some large farm animals and strung them with twine along the bar.

Poster Board Animal Prints

And decorations wouldn't be complete without a tractor and diaper "bails". I had to rescue this one from my son's garage toys and hose it down to look presentable. There is still a hint of dirt on the back tires for effect ;)

Tractor with "Diaper Bails"

The Party:

Guests entered and wrote down prayers or wishes they had for the baby and hung them on the tree so she can save and scrapbook them.

Prayer Tree

They were then lead to the Mimosa Bar and munched on snacks.

Grapefruit Mimosa.

We opened with each guest picking a baby quote to read after they introduced themselves.

We opted out of baby shower games and  instead each guest got to decorate their own onsie. We purchased some onsies and about 15 different fabric prints and cut out little boy themed icons (sailboats, trains, tractors, footballs, ties)

Decorate A Onsie

Onsies (Walmart)
Stencils Icon Cut Outs (silhouette images via Internet)
Fabric (12-15 different prints about an 1/8th yard)
Pencils (to trace images onto fabric)
THIS Fabric Glue via Amazon. It's a fabric glue you can wash!! (Cuts the time in half over iron on appliques)
Paint Brushes (to apply fabric glue)
Several pairs of scissors
Buttons, ribbon, string (extras)

They turned out super cute! And it was such a fun way for all the girls to mingle and get creative.

Most important, it was such a great opportunity to show her love and support during one of life's greatest moments in having a baby.



The common and extraordinary happenings of our household as of late....

Coloring side by side for at least an hour every day usually in the middle of the kitchen floor. I LOVE watching them color together. These two best friends...

Christiana reading to Avila...her favorite books: Where's Spot, Good Night Gorilla, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, and the Very Hungry Catipillar.

It is the few moments of harmony in between the many ALL OUT screaming tantrums Avila graces us with on the hour. We are hoping it is due to her teeth that are making a very late appearance.