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Category Archives: Winter

What’s Saving My Life Right Now

Lucie at play

In the dreary doldrums of winter, Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy had the excellent idea of sharing a few thoughts on what is saving one’s life right now. So much negativity these days — this brings a positive spin to throw us back into the light.

  1. Tazo’s Joy tea — The name says it all. Every Christmas season for the past, at least, 5 years, I’ve taken to drinking a daily cup of this delightful mixture of black, green, and oolong tea. I’m not sure if it is still available at the store, but I stocked up on a few tins before the end of the season. I’m still enjoying my morning cup.
  2. Trader Joe’s fresh flowers — Erica of Be a Heart gave an excellent talk a few weeks ago in the Blessed is She‘s workshops on the importance of beauty in our lives. One thing that brings a lightened mood and beauty to my home, even on difficult or overcast day, is a lovely bouquet of TJ’s fresh flowers. I usually purchase one of the arrangements selling for $3.99, but sometimes I mix it up with a bouquet of just carnations or roses.
  3. Interior Freedom by Fr. Jacques Philippe — I’ve been struggling with finding peace lately, but this excellent read that my husband’s recommending for several years really helped me. This short work has all the right words for an honest dialogue with the Lord about finding that interior peace. He has some others that I will be making my way through soon.
  4. Knitting — I was just telling a friend the other day that finding moments daily to pick up my needles and stitch a few rows makes all the difference for keeping anxiety at bay. With all the crazy busy of life, it is difficult to slow down and truly rest. This activity forces me to still myself. I can literally feel my heart rate drop as I loop in and out.
  5. Meal planning with my planner — The Blessed is She Liturgical Planner‘s are first rate. {None in stock right now, but an updated version should be making it’s way to the shop soon!} The included meal planning and grocery list space {right next to each other!} ensure that it happens every week and makes it super simple to do. I’m actually enjoying the process.
  6. This is Us — We don’t watch a whole lot of television in our home, so you know when there is time reserved for it, it better be good. The show This is Us is a must-see for me every week. It is so well-crafted. The characters are all so real. The situations are ones we find our own selves in at one time or another. I’m laughing and crying through every episode. {And I was very sad there wasn’t a new one last night!}
  7. Raffi — This might seem like a rather silly thing to include on my list, but if there is one children’s musician I will listen to over and over, Raffi is it. I can’t say that of many {or any} others. My girls are completely head-over-heels with his songs, and I totally don’t mind. {He was my childhood favorite too.}

{What’s saving your life right now??}

 

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Gathering My Thoughts ~ Pausing

Outside my window: The clouds have rolled back in and we are waiting for another rain storm to hit this afternoon. The rain this season has been abundant and much-needed, but the cabin fever has been difficult to deal with. Fortunately, we escaped outside to the playground the other day when there was a break for a few days between rain showers, so the girls could get some of their wiggles out.

winter outdoor play

Listening To: Only the espresso machine at the coffee shop. A quiet morning to myself, SO much needed.

blue bottle espresso

Clothing Myself In: My favorite new blouse I picked up at Anthropologie last week during their sale on their sale {the only way I can afford their pieces}. It is a pale, blush pink with the sweetest lace work on the shoulders and front. {I found the link!}

spoon selfie

Talking With My Children About These Books: We are a little behind in our letter learning. This week we’re doubling up with ‘D’ and ‘Z’. The girls really love the song “Five Little Ducks” so we picked up a book at the library of the same title that has pictures of the song and it is on repeat. Our library frequently has a shelf with new picture books that have recently been published. One of our favorites lately is One Bear Extraordinaire. It tells the story of a traveling bear musician who picks up other musician friends along the way to form a band. The moral of the story is that we all have a way to contribute {although it may not always be easy to discover our talent}. Virginia Burton’s The Little House has sparked lots of conversation about why she is sad to live in the city {as Evey really likes to visit big cities}.

sitting together

In My Own Reading: I’ve recently started The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah after it was recommended by my friend, Megan, in her reading list from 2015. One of my favorite genres is historical fiction so I’m very much enthused to read this novel set in France during WWII. I also finished Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson which I’m hoping to share my thoughts on in a post soon. It was just too good to do justice to here (pun intended).

hotel hopping

Thinking and Thinking: I’ve been steeped in thought and emotion about the PRO-LIFE issues this past week. The anniversary of Roe v. Wade with the March for Life in D.C. {with prolonged suffering through this year’s snowstorm}, the Walk for Life in San Francisco, the charges against David for his undercover work while the true criminals are merely dismissed….lots to storm heaven about.

sf ferry building

Pondering: “A good journal entry–like a good song, or sketch, or photograph–ought to break up the habitual and lift away the film that forms over the eye, the finger, the tongue, the heart. A good journal entry ought to be a love letter to the world.
Leave home, leave the country, leave the familiar. Only then can routine experience–buying bread, eating vegetables, even saying hello–become new all over again.”
~
from Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr

Journaling has always been a must for me when I travel, but I’ve fallen out of the habit. I love to have my thoughts and experiences jotted down so I can return to them again years later. The memories soften and fade, but writing them down helps me keep them intact.

This author has an amazing ability to draw his reader right to the time and place he is experiencing. I hope someday my journaling is half as good.

Also, I want to begin keeping a journal for each of the girls with memories of their childhood. I should get something today.

hotel hanging

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: Admittedly, rhythm hasn’t been our friend lately. We’ve been traveling a bit this month and it has thrown schedules out the window. Re-orienting in February.

shirley temple

Creating By Hand: I just finished knitting a hat for myself in a lovely shade of raspberry using the Barley pattern in the looser style. A trip to Carmel in early January allowed me to stop by one of my favorite yarn shops, Knitting By the Sea. The lady who owns the store introduced me to my first knitting pattern — a simple hat I knit for Evey when she was a few months old — and got me going on one of my favorite hobbies. I told her of her influence when we visited this time, which pleased her to hear. She helped me, this time, pick out a wonderful yarn for my own hat.

raspberry barley knit hat

Learning Lessons In: Slowing down. I’m not good at this, but my health and sanity require it.

doctor lu

Encouraging Learning In: Potty training. Still potty training. We’ve had more accidents in the past 24 hours than I care to think about, and this is after Evey has been doing great for almost a year now. She’s started waiting too long to make it the bathroom in time and is continually going on the floor. I guess we’re back to frequent reminders. I do hope this habit is broken quickly. I was thinking of getting Lucie started but this is quite discouraging.

lu at the playground

Crafting in the Kitchen: A set of delicious Morning Glory muffins found their way into our hands on Saturday morning. Evey and Lucie assisted me in their creation on Friday afternoon. We had a wonderful time working together. We hadn’t done much baking together in a while, and I realized I need to make it happen more often. Perhaps we’ll jump in again today.

hot chocolate morning

To Be Fit and Happy: I’m finally keeping my fitness commitment a bit better this month after making just the minimal–one 30 minute workout a week. And I usually get at least one more in. I’m also recovering with physical therapy from a shoulder injury I received from my dear daughter, Lu, who wrestles more than cuddles when she’s being held {and she loves being held}. I’m hoping to commit to another workout or two this coming month once this has cleared up.

fashionista

Loving the Moments: I celebrated my birthday this past Monday and felt so blessed with not just one, but TWO delicious meals prepared by my family. Sushi, then strawberry and red velvet ice cream with chocolate cookies. Lamb shepherd’s pie, then a homemade red velvet cake. Yum, yum, yum. So spoiled and loved.

taking over the bed

Living the Liturgy: Thinking of Lent which starts in two weeks{!!!!}. I’ll be following along with Blessed is She’s On the Way, including using the beautiful Station of the Cross cards. {The physical copies of the workbooks are sold out but I highly recommend grabbing a digital copy you can print yourself!}

carmel beach in january

Planning for the Week Ahead: Our 4th wedding anniversary lands this week. We’ll be postponing most of the celebration until Steve is done with his exam in late February, but I want to make a special dinner this week. Any recommendations?

Knight’s Hat {Yarn Along}

grey-knit-needles

grey-knit-hat-needles

Our family has been fighting an evil bug that caught us by surprise as soon as the cool weather hit last week. We’ve been nursing every cold symptom in the book with long naps, steam baths, and hot toddies. Extra time on the couch has found me with my knitting needles in hand for prolonged periods of time, starting the preparations for Christmas gifts.

My sister-in-law mentioned some time ago that my nephew might like a knitted knight’s hat so I searched high and low for a knit one {crochet ones are much easier to find} and stumbled across these “guidelines” for making one. I say that because it is not really a pattern but a few helps in the constructing of such a thing. It wasn’t too hard to figure out so give it a go if you’re interested.

Thankfully, my nephew doesn’t read my blog so I can share some sneak peeks of his gift. 😉

In the reading department this week, I shot through The Royal We which was great for entertainment, but not too much depth. Just what I needed with a cloudy head. Recommended for those who love British culture, especially of the royal variety.

Linking up with Ginny’s Yarn Along

Mahi-Mahi with Citrus and Avocado {Eat Seasonal}

mahi mahi with citrus

If it is a tad gloomy where you are, and you’re tempted to give into the winter blues, this quick, little recipe will help perk up your evening meal.

grapefruit

Citrus must be God’s little spot of sunshine in the midst of dreary, wintery days. It certainly makes me long after sunshine and gives me hope for warmer days.

avocado and citrus

A bit of fish in your dish will also, perhaps, elicit thoughts of toastier day spent at the beach soaking up the sun’s rays.


This dish requires a little trick called “supreming” but I promise it sounds fancier than it is. I will give you a little three-step process to get you going.

oranges

 1) Start by cutting the two ends off of your orange.

oranges

2) Next, place your orange flat on one of the ends you just removed. Take a sharp knife (paring knife is perfect for this) and slice around the orange to remove the pith and rind.

segmented orange

3) Once your rind is off, holding the orange over a bowl to catch the juices, carefully slice into each segment removing it and putting it to the side for later use.

orange and grapefruit juice

Once all the pieces are out, squeeze the remaining juices from the orange into the bowl. Do the exact same thing with the grapefruit.

Easy peasy, lemon — I mean, orange — squeezy.

You’re halfway there to a complete dinner!


mahi mahi with citrus

Mahi-mahi with citrus and avocado

approximately 1 lb. of mahi-mahi
salt and pepper
1 orange
1 grapefruit
1 avocado

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Following directions above supreme your orange and grapefruit. Reserve about 1/2 c. of the juices for later. {Drink the remainder??}

Pat dry the mahi-mahi. Season with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, place your fish in an oven-proof skillet (I use cast iron for this) and cook for 5-7 minutes on one side, until mostly opaque. Turn over the fish carefully and place in the oven for 3-5 minutes to finish the cooking process.

Slice avocado lengthwise. Place avocado, orange and grapefruit slices on plates. Put fish on top. Pour a little of the reserved juices over the top of the fish.

Enjoy! It goes wonderfully with a green salad and a few slices of toasted sourdough.

Serves 2-4.

What’s Saving My Life Right Now

blood oranges

I don’t have the excuse of a wintery, frozen tundra keeping me locked up indoors for hours at a time every day, but we do spend a lot of time at home. This is partly because of napping schedules {or the lack of them}, partly due to my fear of catching all the nasty viruses lurking outside my door, and partly due to our limited time with a vehicle {we’re a one-car family right now}.

Here’s a list of things helping me currently get through my days:

  1. Nap-time. Although that seems contradictory to the above, there is nothing more glorious than when the girls fall asleep at the same time, and we are slowly moving towards achieving that more regularly. But even having one of them down takes the pressure off a bit.
  2. An understanding husband. Lack of sleep and crazy postpartum hormonal changes make for one shaken soda pop lady, ready to explode on contact sometimes. 🙁 He does SO much to settle the bubbles and make my days easier.
  3. Hot tea. Warms the body, soothes the soul.
  4. The library/good books. We try to visit at least once a week for a new selection. The girls love when I read to them, and I love to sit sometimes by myself with #3 to relax for a few moments on a hectic day.
  5. Sunshine. Because I’m a California girl and too many days without it can put me in a very serious, dour mood.
  6. Our local farmers’ market and fresh produce. The citrus we’ve been loading up on currenty makes sunshine on a cloudy day. I’ll be sharing a great recipe with mahi mahi and citrus soon…stay tuned.
  7. Pandora Taylor Swift radio station. There is nothing better than shakin’ your groove thang when the mood leans more towards depressed than uplifting. This station’s got a good mix just for that very thing.
  8. Photography. This creative outlet is both cathartic and inspiring. It helps me find moments of gratitude on difficult days.

 

What is saving your life right now?

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy

7QT ~ Family, Babies and Health

pope francissource

One)  Stephen shared the text of this beautiful speech of Pope Francis to Families that he gave on his current visit to the Philippines. Some highlights :

“Resting in the Lord. Rest is so necessary for the health of our minds and bodies, and often so difficult to achieve due to the many demands placed on us. But rest is also essential for our spiritual health, so that we can hear God’s voice and understand what he asks of us.”

“To hear and accept God’s call, to make a home for Jesus, you must be able to rest in the Lord. You must make time each day for prayer. But you may say to me: Holy Father, I want to pray, but there is so much work to do! I must care for my children; I have chores in the home; I am too tired even to sleep well. This may be true, but if we do not pray, we will not know the most important thing of all: God’s will for us. And for all our activity, our busy-ness, without prayer we will accomplish very little.”

“Every threat to the family is a threat to society itself. The future of humanity, as Saint John Paul II often said, passes through the family (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 85). So protect your families!”

So many gems I just want to cut and paste them all. Read it yourself.

E sick

Two)  There have been some yucky germs being passed around this winter season. We are finally regrouping after the girls caught a nasty cold that knocked them both down for over a week. {A big part of my absence.} I hope you and yours are staying well. Wash your hands!!

christmas night

Three)  Have you removed your Christmas tree yet? I’m still looking at its splendor here in the living room. That is, unless you get too close and notice how dry it is. {Don’t worry, we’ve been keeping the lights off.} Like an Impressionist painting, best to view it from a distance. We like to keep it up until at least after Epiphany, but since its been there since the beginning of December, it barely made it this year. First up on the task list this weekend.

bis

Four)  Please tell me you’ve signed up with Blessed is She’s devotions, friends! They just keep getting better and better. {If you haven’t signed up yet, you’ll get a set of gorgeous prayer journaling pages straight to your inbox! If you have already — don’t fret — they’ll be in your inbox this weekend.} I was writing on Tuesday about Christ’s gift of salvation. Another great grace of this community of women : the regional groups on Facebook. And don’t forget to join us for #projectblessed on Instagram!

salmon flowers

Five)  I don’t know if it was coming back from a long trip, hormonal overload, or all of the above, but Wednesday was a rough one for me. My dear, dear husband came home with a big hug, a take-and-bake pizza and these gorgeous flowers. I don’t know what I would do without him.

danielle rose

Six)  Many of my fellow blogging friends have been sharing this touching, new music video by the talented Danielle Rose that came out yesterday.

“How can you say there are too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.”
  ~Mother Teresa

I was offended more than once last month when comments were made about how many children I have {really, two causes people to say these things??} and general sneers in my direction because my daughter was crying outside because she was uncomfortable. I’m sorry, babies are only able to communicate one way, dude. This video lifts my spirits and makes me hopeful for the future.

weekly eats

Seven)  I’m not as brave as my friend, Nell, doing without all. the. sugar., but I have been attempting to clean up the family’s meals since our holiday binging. She had some awesome-looking salads at last week’s Week Eats that I’m bookmarking for meals this month. I need more greens in my life right now.

 

Linking up for Seven Quick Takes with Kelly over at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

Moments {Vol. 6} ~ Christmas edition

My girls caught the plague of 2015 pretty much from the moment the clock struck midnight. {Never let the thought pass through your mind, ‘Yay, we escaped any illness this holiday season!’ because you will pay for it.} My already full hands have never felt fuller and I’m under the impression I have more like ten kids than two right now.  We’re still in recovery mode but weaning off the need to be held 24-7 {and I mean 24-7 as I (and Steve) have spent several nights sleeping with a baby held upright so they could breathe easier}.

The kind words my sweet, sweet husband wrote the other day were a great salve to my heart. <3 I’m still in awe of how I was blessed with such a wonderful man to journey with through this life.

I’m hoping to write a review of 2014 but we’ll see how life goes. It could be February….or August….before you see it.

 

In the meantime, here are a few memorable moments from over the Christmas holiday.

living roomExploring the cabin renovations happening at Steve’s parents’ cabin. We can’t wait to party there in the summer!

stairwell

Lindy at the window

red doorGram is ecstatic about her arched, red door!!! 🙂

snow playPlaying in the snow with her cousin before the Muff family Christmas party.

selfie stickOne of Gram’s best Christmas gifts: the selfie stick!! She put it to good use at the family Christmas party.

Nancy xmas storyNancy sharing the Christmas story with the family.

L + EQuality time with Aunt Lindy!

Muff family xmasSteve’s family with spouses and children included. 🙂

cousinsA whole lotta cousins!

chillin' on the couchHow Lucie preferred to do Christmas morning. {This kid!}

xmas treeOur tree on Christmas morning.

opening giftsOpening gifts with Evey on Christmas morning.

reading togetherReading her Christmas book with Daddy on Christmas morning.

LuluLucie perfecting her roll.

scooteringTrying out her new scooter. She’s a natural!

upside down snowmanThe reason why her stocking featured an upside-down snowman.

xmas morning breakfastEggnog cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. {Accompanied by the entire Hundred Acre Woods crew.}

xmas morningA quick pic before Mass on Christmas morning. My dolls. 🙂

avocadoLucie’s second food: avocado. Liked the taste of it, but even more, smashing it!

xmas readingMy brother, Ethan, sharing a beautiful essay with the family that he wrote about serving Midnight Mass at Christmas.

Munsill family xmasMunsill family Christmas photo!

Merry and Bright – Dovewood Court

Dovewood Court is a highlight of the Christmas season in the Sacramento area. The homeowners on this street have it written into their CC&Rs that they are required to put together a light display in their yard to be viewed by hundreds of thousands throughout the month of December. {This certainly isn’t a place to live if you want access to your driveway on December evenings.} One can view it by car or on foot. We usually prefer on foot to get the full experience.

They do not disappoint. Take a peek:

frosty

roses in December

penguins

Margaritaville

grinch

o holy night

support our troops

family

E and snowman

snowballs for sale

Noel

holy family

christmas around the world

magical

gingerbread houses

airport dovewood

garage display

frozen boat

winnie the pooh boat

charlie brown

snowflakes

light dome

in the lights

aglow

Merry Christmas!

train tracks family photo

 

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Much love, the Muffs

Reindeer Games {and Candy Canes}

This is turning into a rather crafty Advent and I’m not one bit sad about that. On my own, I’ve been knitting whenever I have two hands free {which isn’t too often}, but what I’m really enjoying this year is getting Evelyn involved with making things. And I believe she takes after her mama on this one.

cousins

E rolling out dough

R cutting out

cutting cookies

My mom invited the girls and their cousins over for a little hands-on Christmas fun. We started out with some roll-out sugar cookies, taking turns with the rolling pin, then frantically trying to cover every space possible with cut-out snowmen, stars, and trees. We found out quickly who was fastest on the draw.

O cutting out

O rolling out dough

quick cutting

baking cookies

Candy cane reindeer is a long-time favorite in my family. We’ve been making them as long as I can remember. We would make them by the dozens and use them to fill out a mug of Kisses for our teachers that we would gift during the holiday season. Some might make it to the tree but they would never hang there for long.

candy cane reindeer

candy cane reindeer 2

candy cane reindeer 3

The easiest way to do these is with a squirt from the glue gun but that’s not a good idea with little hands around. This year we used tacky glue, and it did the trick. {Although, for some reason, the nose of mine kept sliding off. No one else seemed to be having this problem….}

candy cane reindeer 4

candy cane reindeer 5

The intricacy of the craft really stepped up when my brother, Seth, got in on the game and began creating superhero reindeer. {Can you guess which one is which?}

Green lantern reindeer

batman reindeer

superman reindeer

I can’t even.

green lantern protection

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