Wednesday, October 14, 2015

7 Things That Have Kept Me From Blogging

Hey friends! Thanks for still checking in on me especially since I haven't exactly been super active here on the blog. I have been keeping the Facebook page up and I did start an Instagram, but not much writing has happened.

And there's nothing like a Link-toberfest to pull one out of a blogging slump. Even if I am days late in getting it up and published…

This is my first post in forevah, but I'll take it and celebrate with Kelly and the Gang honoring 7 (!!!) years of the 7 Quick Takes link-up. So here you go, a peek into where I've been.


First up, my baby brother got married this summer, which was a delightful time to be had. The wedding was a day before my anniversary in VA. So we trekked down south for almost a week, took a few days to spend time with my extended family on the way there and back to break up the trip. My new sister-in-law did an excellent job of pulling of a lovely DIY reception and had everything set up for us to step in and help out where we could. The whole thing was a whirlwind of ridiculous amounts of fun!

Learning Angry Birds skills the morning of the wedding.

Dominic was a Jr. groomsman and got to escort the two Jr. bridesmaids back down the aisle. I wish I could say that someone had captured his ear-to-ear smile as he proudly marched down, but I am pretty sure no one managed to capture that shot. It will have to just be the image I saved in my own memory. I am pretty sure it's an experience he will never forget - my little, typically shy, boy has shared this moment with so many people in the past two months.


End of August brought us to the beginning of our first official year of homeschooling. My son's birthday, of course, falls ON the cutoff date for NY state, so we had to register him this year. We did homeschool preschool and kindergarten, but our approach was heavily hands on learning and much less book, so this year is our first year with a schedule albeit a loose one.

Thus far it's been pretty fun most days. English and Math I've decided to stick to a set book and then for history and science, we're loosely following 2-3 week units with field trips, library books, and lots of reading, drawing, maps, conjecture, and so forth.


In mid-September my grandmother came for a whirlwind 3 day visit. She has the energy of a 5 year old, so we dragged her all over, counting it as a week full of field trips. One of the days we spent the whole day in Niagara Falls. I'd been there twice but never had the full tourist experience. So we did it all - boat ride under the falls, walking the scaffolding next to the American Falls, the aquarium, and a picnic lunch near the Niagara River. Exhausting day, but oh so fun!


A week after my grandmother headed home, we packed up and headed to Philidelphia… to see Papa Francisco! It was our first pilgrimage since becoming Catholic and along with seeing the Holy Father, celebrating with thousands of Catholics at the Family Festival, and attending mass with well over a million people, we also were able to see the traveling relics of St. Maria Goretti, visit the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, and meet Catholics from all over the country and several other countries as well.

Waving to Papa Francisco the THIRD time we got to see him!

The joy and love that spread through the city following mass on Sunday was in and of itself worth it. The whole city was alive with music (many of the pilgrims from Central and South American countries carried instruments with them), laughter, and all around goodwill. It was overall an experience to remember and memories to relish for years to come!


Something I am excited about that you might not be as excited as I am is that David has wrapped up his Master's degree, and we can finally start to make plans about what is next for our family! All you mamas out there who have husbands pursuing further education - I feel for you, and if we made it through, so can you.


Quick kid updates…
Dom is nearing his 6th birthday and is obsessed with Star Wars. The kid is a walking encyclopedia on all things canon. (You know we're real nerds when we differentiate canon from non). Art follows close behind as his other passion, and recently he's realized he can decorate all the walls by hanging his art about the house with some painter's tape rolled and stuck on the back.

Blaise is going through that hard middle child stage where he longs to be as cool as he perceives his older brother to be and still keep way ahead of a little brother who is now keeping up with him. Enter many tantrums and other attitude craziness. He also has discovered the wonder of painter's tape but uses it to "tie" together bundles of sticks and pinecones instead. He also has a collection of tp tubes, which entertain him so well he's managed to not get them thrown away by me.

Youngest little man is nearing 17 months and is still protesting walking. Adrian is adventurous in every way except standing and walking. Everything that can be climbed he has tried. He's not as much of a talker as his brothers were at this age, but he does say Hi to everyone he sees.


Last but not least. Since Kelly asked, this seems to be only my 23rd 7QT link-up on ye old blog. Guess I should link up more often. Especially since I thought I'd done way more. My most popular one by far was last year's 7 Quick Ways to Celebrate Martinmas, relevant because St. Martin of Tours' feast day is sneaking up again.

And there you have it! What have you been up to these past few months?

Don't miss a post! Subscribe via the RSS or email links in the top righthand corner. 
You can also follow me on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.
All rights reserved. ©Sarah G. Ortiz
::This blog post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. 
By clicking through to make a purchase, you help to financially support TO+M::

This post: 7 Things That Have Kept Me From Blogging first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 14 October 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Where I'm At Today

Hello ever so patient and gracious readers!

I have had to take some unexpected time off from blogging just due to way so much more on my plate than I was planning for this summer. I miss writing and sharing and the community of it all though, so don't fear - I shall be back more regularly in the future. For now though it's going to be a post here and there for at least a few more weeks.

Today you can find me over at…  

Image courtesy of Blessed Is She

How often do you find yourself stuck in the monotony of day-in and day-out life? You know, just the same ol’ same ol’. I know I often find myself in a never ending cycle of laundry and wiping up bite-sized pieces of grapes from the floor. The drudgery becomes a vicious vacuum that envelops my whole being.

For you, it might be a work, home, repeat cycle. Maybe it’s classes and exams that surround your every thought. Or maybe you’re just overwhelmed with how much life at its core is demanding from you today. It may seem that the nothingness is out of control; perhaps you can’t even figure out where God fits into the picture. 
Head over to Blessed Is She to keep reading

Have you signed up to receive the daily reading and devotionals written by Catholic women from all over the country yet? If not, go here and do so now, so you don't miss any! Plus there are all kinds of other ways to connect with others!

One way is the new Blessed Brunches that are being planned all over! I will be hosting one at the end of August/beginning of September timeframe for those in the Western NY area, so be on the lookout for more info about how you can join me for that.

Don't miss a post! Subscribe via the RSS or email links in the top righthand corner. 
You can also follow me on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.
::This blog post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. 
By clicking through to make a purchase, you help to financially support TO+M::

This post: Where I'm At Today first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 23 July 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

7 Quick Ways to Celebrate St. Josemaria Escriva (+ Flan recipe!)

A modern Saint for our modern times, St. Josemaria Escriva is one of my new favorite Saints as of the past year. This year marks the 40th anniversary of his death on June 26th. He has only been a canonized saint since 2002, but his words on family, marriage, vocations in general, and just everyday work are so very encouraging and challenging. I think if you read about him and the works he wrote, you, too, will find he's one of your favorites.

After I read this quote from him, I knew he would be one of my new faves...

Born and raised in a devoutly Catholic family, Josemaria entered the seminary at age 16 and was ordained as a priest in Zaragoza, Spain 7 years later. While on retreat, God gave him the vision for Opus Dei. The rest of St. Josemaria's life was dedicated to founding and establishing that institution, which is dedicated to helping people seek holiness in their everyday life and to grow in love with God and their fellow man. In the 40s, he moved to Rome to be close to the Holy See. From here out, Opus Dei grew to include hospitals, schools, agricultural training centers, and more. Today it has over 84,000 members in over 60 countries.

If you're interested in learning more about St. Josemaria Escriva, check out Idea #1, and then go ahead an celebrate him by trying out one of the other ideas.

1 // Learn more about St. Josemaria Escriva

This eBook on the Life of St. Josamaria is available free in PDF form on the Josemaria Escriva website. It's a wonderful introduction to read aloud to your kids and learn something yourself as well!

If you're interested in owning a movie about him, this one: God's Footprints, is a 30 minute animated film produced by EWTN. I haven't seen it, so I can't attest to how good it is.

2 // Thank your parents for your life and faith

“Be grateful to your parents for bringing you into this world, thus enabling you to become a child of God,” he instructs. “And be all the more grateful if it was they who placed in your soul the first seeds of faith and piety, of your Christian way, or of your vocation.”
How often do we thank our parents for the life they gave us, for what they sacrificed for us, and if they brought us up in the Church, for the seeds they planted in our early lives? Especially as I parent my own little ones, I realize how grateful I am for all my parents did for me. Send a text, write an e-mail (or even better a handwritten note), or call your parents and say "Thanks."

3 // Make a Spanish meal

Since his feast day falls on a Friday this year, these are all meat-free options, but next year you could totally add in your favorite meat-full dish!

Tortilla EspaƱola ala a Spanish Potato Omelette, simple and looks tasty!

Seafood Paella is a little more complicated. We often make it with only fish and maybe a little bit of shrimp and clams to add a variety of flavor at less of a cost.

Gazpacho is a perfect summer dishes. This recipe is the more traditional variation, a blend of tomato and cucumber - there are many others out there though, so Google away and pick a flavor that fits your palate.

This Veggie Empanada recipe looks fantastic, and I think this will be what we go with. My boys LOVE empanadas - they're basically the Hispanic equivalent of a British pasty or a Jamaican meat patty.

And for dessert, round it off with a Flan!

My husband, who is part Cuban and Puerto Rican volunteered to share his family recipe passed down to him by his La-la. Crazily enough I have no photos of this traditional family dessert, but I'll take one of the flan he makes tomorrow and share it. Just imagine it for now to be super lovely!


You will need:
1 can condensed milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 cans milk (2% or whole) - use the can from the condensed milk to measure
1/2 - 3/4 cup white sugar
For a "flan pan" you can use a deep oven-safe metal bowl - we use an all-metal double boiler. You want it to be several inches deep and at least 6-7" in diameter 
1.) Preheat oven 350. Coat bottom of pan in sugar. Heat over medium to low flame, stirring the sugar constantly until a thick syrup is formed. It's easy to burn, so make sure you are stirring the whole time!
A trick is to add 2 TB of rum of the sugar to help it melt more evenly
2.) Turn off the heat, and let the sugar cool. It will start to crack
when it's cooled.
3.) In mixing bowl, mix 3 eggs until well blended. Make sure whites
are well broken up. Gradually stir in condensed milk with whisk until
well blended with eggs.
4.) Gradually stir in regular milk with whisk until everything is well
mixed together.
5.) Butter flan pan from top of the sugar all the way to the top. Pour
in the egg/milk mixture through a mesh strainer. Try to pour as slowly
as you can, avoiding air bubbles.
6.) Place in a water bath - another pan with the water as high as the
custard is. (Outside the flan pan.)
7.) Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Custard will still jiggle, but a
knife inserted into middle should come out clean. Thoroughly cool it
before you flip it out. Air cool an hour or so, and then chill in
fridge for several hours.
8.) To flip it out, run a knife along edge of flan to loosen. Set a
plate upside down on top of pan. Hold the pan on the bottom, and very
quickly iinvert pan and plate. Tada!

4 // Try out The Mangy Donkey 

This drink recipe, included in Drinking with the Saints: The Sinner's Guide to a Holy Happy Hour, is a brandy cocktail. Brandy, because it is a major export of Spain's, and the name is drawn from what the saint referred to himself as. I just got this book for David for Father's Day, and let me tell you, we are already enjoying it quite a bit! There are stories for each saint, wines and beers for many of them, and cocktail recipes throughout. 

This patient and industrious animal appeals to me, for the donkey is tough and austere, for he is humble. But above all, he appeals to me because he works, because he perseveres day after day, turning the water-wheel, drawing the water that makes the orchard flower. The donkey puts up with anything, even the blows. He works and works, and is content with just a handful of straw or grass.
St Josemaria, letter dated 15 October 1948, no. 11

5 // Learn a new prayer 
or say one you haven't said in awhile

From a young age, St. Josemaria was taught simple prayers that he repeated throughout his day. This is a simple discipline that we also, as parents, can pass along to our children.

Some we have taught our children that they've memorized at this point include: Hail Mary, Our Father, Prayer to St. Michael, Anima Christi (which Blaise sweetly refers to as the 'Name of Christi' - we don't correct him because it's still cute at age 3), the Guardian Angel prayer, and the Hail Holy Queen.

6 // Say a Rosary

"When we were little, we kept close to our mother in a dark alley or if dogs barked at us. Now, when we feel temptations of the flesh, we should run to the side of our Mother in Heaven, by realizing how she is to us, and by means of aspirations. She will defend us and lead us to the light." --St. Josemaria Escriva
St. Josemaria had many wonderful things to say about the Rosary and about calling on our Lady for help in getting through each day. The above quote is one of my favorites, and I always like to remember that "she will defend me and lead me to the light" as I finger my beads.

7 // Set up a Plan of Life

A Plan of Life is a spiritual plan to keep you accountable to working on your relationship with God every day. Just like we plan our calendars, meals, schooling, and so forth, so St. Josemaria encouraged his followers to create a plan to ensure making time for God daily. Some ideas for this could be starting the day with a morning offering, saying a daily rosary, adding the Angelus, ending your day with an examination of conscience, or attending daily mass.

Yes, this is a long time goal, but what better day to start it then today? Pick something that's doable for you and commit to doing it every day!

St. Josemaria expounds more on the Plan of Life in his book: Friends of God.

Happy Feast Day of St. Josemaria Escriva!

Don't miss a post! Subscribe via the RSS or email links in the top righthand corner. 
You can also follow me on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.
::This blog post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. 
By clicking through to make a purchase, you help to financially support TO+M::

This post: 7 Quick Ways to Celebrate St. Josemaria Escriva first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 22 June 2015

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Last Minute Father's Day Gift Guide for the Catholic Man

Having trouble coming up with a fun yet not totally wasteful Father's Day gift? Worried it won't get here on time? Want something to enrich your husband/dad's faith? Look no further. I have come up with a thorough list of many great gifts that could be the perfect fit for many a Catholic man.

I have questioned a thoroughly reliable source… ahem, my husband, on some fun, practical, and useful gift ideas. And gift giving/receiving isn't his love language, so you know something is worthwhile when he gives it the affirming thumbs up.

Something to Read

For my husband at least, books are always a win. I included a few headier books as well as some light hearted ones.


Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Be A Man!: Becoming the Man God Created You to Be by Fr. Larry Richards

Practical Theology: Spiritual Direction from St. Thomas Aquinas by Dr. Peter Kreeft

Drinking with the Saints: The Sinner's Guide to a Holy Happy Hour by Michael P. Foley

Angels in Iron by Nicholas C. Prata

Space Trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet; Perelandra; That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis

Something to Wear

T-shirts are always good, especially when you're ready to discard of the rattier ones in the drawer.

Monk Rock has some excellent Ts including the one above.

Mantled Catholic Clothing is another company with some great designs. My husband picked the one above.

Also fun is the T-shirt from Swanky Turtle kids can drive their toy vehicles on the back while Dad catches up on his sleep.

I got David a bow tie from popARTicles last year, and it's one of my personal favorites of the ones I've found over the years. Unique designs, quality craftsmanship, and reasonable prices while still supporting handmade.

Something Practical

Paracord rosaries from Rugged Rosaries are the perfect combination of sturdiness and simple, sleek design. Handcrafted in CA by a family business with 550 lb paracord.

Barbatus Beard Balm for the bearded man in your life. From their website:
"Barbatus Beard Balm is an all natural blend of almond oil, shea butter, beeswax, cocoa butter and essential oils (in our scented ones). There are currently three aromas available Chrism, Franciscan, and Lectio."
With those names, how can you say no?

For the Dad who enjoys the outdoors, camping, fixing things, and survival tactics:

Something He Can Eat/Drink

Whiskey Sour Pickles by Brooklyn Brine - these are so, so good. Check your local grocery store (I've found them at Wegmans, Trader Joes, and a local town grocer as well!)

A craft Beer or another favorite libation is always a great way to remind him he's appreciated.

Something just for Fun

Tavern Puzzles

Carcassonne or another fun game. If Dad already owns and loves a game that has expansion packs, maybe grab one of those! Here are 5 pretty awesome games we happen to love.

A giant box of Lego. This is what my boys have picked out for my husband this year. It works out great: Dad gets to play again under the guise of building for his ever impressed sons while I can sneak away to another part of the house. Win/win/win.

I'd forgotten that I'd gotten David a Viking One Handed Long Sword Replica several years ago, but he reminded me and said it was still one of his favorite gifts ever. 


With exception of the Amazon links, all these companies are just ones we think are awesome. I haven't been paid or sponsored in any way by them, but I do think they are worth your money.

Best of luck in shopping for and picking out something that's a perfect way to show appreciation for the Dad in your life!

Want to follow my blog? It's easy - subscribe via the RSS or email links in the top righthand corner. 
You can also follow me on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.
All rights reserved. ©Sarah G. Ortiz
::This blog post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. 
By clicking through to make a purchase, you help to financially support TO+M::
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...