A blog where families who love and live the Catholic Faith can share, encourage and support each other.

Friday, March 23, 2012

10 Good Reasons to Watch Television

By Vicky
The relationship between me and my TV has had its ups and downs, over the years. Sometimes, it has been my best friend - almost a lifesaver;-). At others, it has been the big, flat monster that seems to mock at any attempt of mine to release my poor, naive children from the power of its hypnotic, mind-numbing grip.

There have been moments, when I have seriously considered a life without television. I have longed for the peaceful solitude of quiet days, undisturbed by the intrusion of modern gadgets or the strange, big world, beyond the little haven I have built up for my family. But, then, I have wondered what I am afraid of. Do I think God will abandon us to become worldly, atheistic zombies, if we dare to watch our TV in moderation and with prayerful discernment?

I understand that there are problems associated with the excessive and indiscriminate watching of television and I agree that viewing is a passive occupation which can subtly, but significantly, alter both our thought processes and our perceptions of the world. I see that it can, also, intrude upon relationships and become a substitute for more creative pursuits or real-life experiences.

But, as for the times when we view television as a useful tool and, even, the odd occasions when, exhausted and flustered, we fall back on 'babysitting' television - are we really harming ourselves and our families? Within a loving home, is there really any danger of long term damage? And, if we decide that TV truly is becoming a problem, are we really so powerless that we can't just go and flick the off button, when it's necessary?

Bearing in mind that there is such a thing as quality viewing, I decided to see if I could think of 10 good reasons to watch television. Here's what I came up with:

1. TV can introduce our children to new places and cultures that they have no opportunity of visiting, right now.
2. It can stimulate new ideas and creativity, teaching new skills, and bringing an awareness of and an appreciation for the gifts of others.
3. TV can provide the opportunity to view quality productions in the arts, where attending a live performance may not be possible.
4. Documentaries are a source of knowledge and information which are readily accessible and easily assimilated by children, through television.
5. Television can enrich the experience of good literature by providing a visual extension to the reading.
6. It can lead to good reading when an adaptation of literature is viewed first and a child's interests are subsequently stimulated by what they read.
7. It can keep one abreast of world events and connected to the world at large, from the safety of one's own home.
8. TV can stimulate discussion, and be the source of intelligent conversation and analytical thinking.
9. Watching TV can be relaxing, when stressed, and provide mothers with a some respite when they really need it.
10. It can provide the opportunity for wholesome fun and entertainment, when families choose to watch a special show or movie together.
11. There might be a chance that the doom-and-gloom predictions of, even moderate, TV viewing by children just may be a tad exaggerated. (Some years ago, we had a toddler daughter with a seriously worrying TV addiction. This girl lived for Hi-Five, from morning till night - no exaggeration, she was excessive! Today, she is a perfectly normal, creative 8 year old who prefers swimming, craft, reading and outdoor play with her friends to sitting in front of the TV.)

(Oops - that's 11, not 10! Well, I can't blame the oversight on mind-numbing TV, as I myself very rarely watch it!)

And, to sum up, do I agree with all that's on my list? Hmmm, perhaps, not all of it - or, not entirely... But, then, maybe, I do... Well, possibly, I do, at the moment...

In actual fact, it's of no consequence. I continue to live, pray and frequent the Sacraments, and slowly, silently and surely, God continues to remove from my life any negative, little influences that hinder my progress towards Heaven.

So, television - friend or foe? I'll trust in the Lord to decide.

Monday, March 19, 2012

St Joseph's Sofa

Written by Sue Elvis

It is Sunday and my favourite day of the week. Here I am, relaxing and enjoying some quiet time after the busyness of the past week. I’m sitting on my favourite sofa.

Let me tell you about my favourite sofa. It came to us via St Joseph. Whenever our family needs anything, someone says, “Ask St Joseph!” And he never fails to intercede for us.

Some years ago, we had a very embarrassing sofa. On the surface it looked fine. But lurking under the plump, welcoming cushions was a hungry trap just waiting to swallow an unsuspecting guest. Entertaining was stressful. We couldn’t relax. We’d be waiting for that inevitable moment when our guest would start disappearing, the sofa slowly sucking him inwards. One day I’d had enough. “That sofa has to be replaced!” I shouted. So we all started praying, “Please St Joseph, we need somewhere safe and solid where our friends can sit!”

St Joseph never takes very long. Within a day or two, the phone rang: A friend: “Can you use a lounge suite? It’s an antique.” An antique? Wow! That sounded posh. Yes, please, we’ll have it.

I rang Andy. “St Joseph has answered our prayers. We’re getting a new lounge suite…an antique. It sounds wonderful. It’ll be here when you get home.”

I immediately got to work heaving the old sofa and chairs out to the shed. Their day was over. They had swallowed their last guest.

After lunch, a truck arrived. We could hear it reversing up the drive and we all dashed out eager to see what St Joseph had provided for us.

The driver jumped out of his cab and said, “I could keep on driving, you know. If you want me to take it to the tip, that’s no problem.”

Take my new, antique lounge suite to the tip? I didn’t understand. “What do you mean….?”

“Take a look,” the man advised coming around to the back of his vehicle.

There in the back of the truck was the shabbiest sofa and chairs I had ever seen. Their gold (or was that green?) upholstery was torn in many places revealing another layer of threadbare red fabric. The ruffled trim around the bottom of the sofa was more off than on.

For a moment I was stunned, speechless.

“To the tip?” the man asked, trying to be helpful.

I was inclined to agree but what would I tell my friend? She would notice the absence of the lounge suite next time she visited. And what would I tell Andy? He was expecting to see a new, antique sofa. And the lounge room? I suddenly remembered the empty space we had created that morning. I absolutely refused to get the other sofa back out of the shed. So I said, “No. Unload it. It’ll be fine.”

Later than evening, Andy and I were sitting in the lounge talking over the events of the day.

“I was so excited.”

“It sounded so perfect.”

“I thought St Joseph had come to the rescue again.”

“Yes, sending us not just an ordinary sofa but an antique sofa.”

“Antique!” I laughed and Andy joined in. Everything seemed so funny.

Then suddenly the giggles disappeared. I had noticed something. “You know what?” I remarked. “This is a really comfortable sofa! It mightn’t look very good but it feels wonderful.” I relaxed back into the firm upholstery, secure in the knowledge that none of me was going to do a vanishing act. “This must be the most comfortable sofa we have ever had.”

That was 10 years ago and we still have that lounge suite. It is getting shabbier and shabbier and sometimes I think we really ought to replace it. But I just can’t quite come to the decision to part with it. Maybe one day we can get it reupholstered. Then it would be absolutely perfect.

We learnt a lot from this shabby sofa story. Firstly, things can sometimes seem disappointing on the surface, but if you look closer…there are treasures waiting to be discovered. How many gifts have we not seen because we haven’t looked properly? Secondly, St Joseph always sees to our needs and never lets us down. What did we ask for? A solid sofa, safe for guests. And that is exactly what we got. Next time we shall have to be more specific: “ Please St Joseph, we need a new sofa. It needs to be solid and safe and comfortable...and could you possibly arrange one that looks good too?"

Please share more of my stories at my blog, Sue Elvis Writes

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lenten meals

For those giving up meat during some days of Lent..


Some of our family standbys -

Zucchini Slice
5 eggs
150g (1 cup) self-raising flour, sifted
375g zucchini, grated
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup grated low fat cheddar cheese
60ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease and line a 30 x 20cm lamington pan.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl until combined. Add the flour and beat until smooth, then add zucchini, onion, cheese and oil and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared pan and bake in oven for 30 minutes or until cooked through.

Peanut Butter Pasta ( ALSO NICE WITH RICE)
Dry pasta
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup skim milk
1 tbsp soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne (more if you like it spicy)
1/2 tsp black pepper
3-4 cups veggies (broccoli, peppers, carrots, peas, corn, etc), cut into bite size pieces - optional, sometimes we leave this out and just serve the pasta and sauce with lots of salad...

Cook the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the peanut butter, hot water, and milk until smooth. Stir in the soy sauce, garlic, cayenne, salt and pepper. When pasta is almost done, add vegetables and cook for another couple of minutes. Drain and return to pot. Pour in the peanut sauce and toss well.

Nigella's Macaroni Cheese
500g macaroni cooked al dente
500g cheese chopped( low fat for me)
1 cup evaporated milk - but I usually just use skim milk
2 eggs
1/4 tspn of nutmeg ( but I usually just use paprika)

1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
2. Mix ingredients except pasta in blender. Pour into wide shallow dish that will fit ingredients. Stir in pasta.
3. Bake until melty around 10-15 minutes.

Nigella's Cheesy Risotto
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon oil
2 baby leeks (or fat spring onions), finely sliced
300g risotto rice
125ml white wine
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 litre hot vegetable stock
125g Cheddar, chopped

1.Melt the butter and oil in a medium-sized pan and cook the sliced baby leeks until they have softened.
2. Add the risotto rice and keep stirring for a minute or so, then turn up the heat and add the wine and mustard, stirring until the wine is absorbed.
3. Start ladling in the hot stock, letting each ladleful become absorbed as you stir, before adding the next one.
4. Stir and ladle until the rice is al dente, about 18 minutes, then add the cheese, stirring it into the rice until it melts.
5. Take the pan straight off the heat, still stirring as you do so, and spoon the risotto into warmed dishes.

Chana Dahl (yellow split peas) - we eat this with rice and veges
1tsp curry powder
3tsp salt
1tsp ground tumeric
5c water
1.5c chana dahl (or yellow split peas)
1clv garlic, peeled and chopped
1tsp red chilli powder (can substitute cayenne pepper)
1 onion
Put the dahl in a big pot with five cups of water. Bring to a boil and remove any surface scum. Add the turmeric and ginger. Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, turn heat to low, and simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours or until the dahl is tender. ..I usually cheat and just bung this ll into the crocpot and cook on low all day....Most but not all of the water should be absorbed. Add the salt to the dahl, stir to mix. Heat some oil in a small frying pan over a medium flame. When hot, put in the curry powder. A couple seconds later, put in the garlic and onion. Stir and fry until lightly browned. Put the chilli powder into the pan. Immediately lift the pan off the heat and pour its entire contents into the pot with the dahl. Stir to mix.

Camembert Pasta. After Stations of the Cross. And with red wine. From Jamie Oliver's
Ministry of Food. For a special occasion that just happens to fall on a Friday in Lent. 

250g Camembert cheese
2 cloves garlic
1 sprig fresh rosemary
salt & pepper
olive oil
100g parmesan cheese
400g dried rigatoni
150g fresh spinach ( we used baby spinach leaves)
Preheat oven 180 degrees Celsius. Put Camembert in a small oven proof dish or bake in box. Lift off top and discard. Lay chopped garlic and rosemary on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little olive oil. Bake 25 minutes or until golden and melted.
Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Add spinach to pan for about 10 seconds to wilt, drain, reserve some of the cooking water.
Return pasta and spinach to pan. Drizzle with olive oil, add grated parmesan. If too thick, add some of the reserved cooking water. Season. Remove cheese from oven.
Serve pasta in bowls. Drizzle the melted Camembert over the top of each serve.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My subconscious and I

Me: Hmmm … I have a few days free right now and maybe I should …

Subconscious: Oh good … we’re going on holiday!

Me: Holiday? No … of course not …

Sub: But, we haven’t been on holiday for sometime …

Me: Yes we did … we went to the seaside for the weekend two years ago … that was nice …

Sub: Wasn’t it just? OK … what will you do with your free days?

Me: Well, I was intending to plan …

Sub: Oh no … not more plans. You’re always planning something; and writing documents, and filing all sorts of bits of paper. It’s your need to be in control of everything. Always planning! Why can’t you let things be? Surprise yourself. Be instantaneous. Let things happen for a change, without any plans and schedules. What is it you’re planning this time?

Me: Well … my funeral, as it happens.

Sub: What?

Me: My funeral.

Sub: Are you feeling well? No aches and pains I should know about? Apart from your brain that is! What’s brought on the sudden need to plan your funeral?

Me: Well … It helps get things organized … you know … when the time comes. It saves the bother and worry for those left behind to have to sort things out.

Sub: But … the whole purpose of dying is to get others to sort things out. It gives them something to do and stops them moping around with miserable faces.

Me: It would be nice to organize the funeral service in church. My favorite readings … favorite hymns …

Sub: Oh no … not those sad hymns. What is it with people and sad hymns at funerals? Why not sing something cheerful?

Me: Like what?

Sub: Like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Maybe people would like to sing those at your funeral rather than your sad hymns.

Me: But people always have mournful songs at funerals.

Sub: Don’t they just? And what is it with that song from the movies? What’s it called? And I will always love you. With that very long elongated … I … which goes on and on before singing will always love you. What’s all that about?

Me: It’s sad. It depicts the love people have for the person who has died.

Sub: What nonsense. If you really love someone you tell them so when they’re alive. When they’re with you. And you show that love through the way you treat them. Not tell them all about it when they’re dead … When it could be too late.

Me: You have a point there …

Sub: I always do. Take my advice. Forget about planning your funeral and go and show your love for somebody.

Me: How well put …

Sub: And another thing … you’re a pain in the neck … working your way South!