Friday, October 31, 2014

Celebrating the Feast of St. Martin de Porres

Coming up very soon on the Liturgical calendar, this Monday (November 3rd), is the feast day of a saint you might not have heard of before: St. Martin de Porres. Born in 1579 in Peru, Martin was the illegitimate child of a wealthy Spaniard and a freed colored woman. In looks Martin took after his mother, and his father kicked him out of the house. Raised in poverty, at around the age of 12, Martin was placed into an apprenticeship where he learned the basic skills of a barber and how to run an infirmary.

At the age of 15, St. Martin went to the local Dominican monastery, requesting to become one of their order. He finally became a lay Dominican and remained in that one monastery in Lima for the whole of his life. Not only was he able to serve as a barber and a infirmaries, St. Martin also worked as a farm laborer. All animals, even down to the rats, he saw as lovable as one of God's creatures. When needed Martin was the one to raise funds for projects and missions. He also happened to be great friends with another saint from Lima: St. Rose.

Possessing the spiritual gift of bilocation, it is said that St. Martin de Porres was able to serve the sick during an epidemic that struck the city, passing through even locked doors to offer compassion and medicinal help. Attributed to this saint is the quote: "Compassion is preferable to cleanliness."

St. Martin died in 1639, and he is often depicted with a broom. He is the Patron saint of Peru, poor people, hair dressers, and social justice.

To get you started on celebrating this coming Monday, here are a few ideas:


This traditional dish from Peru: Peruvian Arroz con Pollo (recipe from Que Rica Vida) looks delicious and can be easily changed to include a different offering of meat or to be completely vegetarian.

Supposedly this dessert originated in Peru and would, therefore, be appropriate to finish off your meal: Arroz con Leche or you could go with a little fancier. Picarones, fried up sweet potato and pumpkin donuts, look a little more challenging in the cooking realm, but they also look pretty tasty.

Activities + Crafts

Just as St. Martin loved and served the poor around him, especially at this time of year, a simple service project directed towards the food pantries and shelters in your area would be appropriate. In going with the barber theme, you could see if a shelter is in need of razors, shaving cream, and other toiletries.

Don't forget his love for animals - visit an animal shelter. A mouse craft would also be perfect here, given St. Martin's love for even the least of the creatures. For a preschooler, this simple shape mouse craft would be perfect!

Running in the last minute camp? No worries - this coloring page depicts St. Martin with his broom.

Say a special prayer for the orphaned, the widows, and the sick.


Martin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert by Gary Schmidt and illustrated by David Diaz

We actually first learned about St. Martin de Porres through this picture book after finding it in the library a few years back. This book does have a little negativity shown towards priests that don't let St. Martin advance in religious orders, but all in all it's a lovely telling of his life. The artwork is also superb.

The Pied Piper of Peru by Ann Tompert

This story keys in on St. Martin's love for the mice and his unwillingness to hurt any of God's creatures.

Saint Martin de Porres by Mary Fabyan Windeatt

I have not had the chance to check this book out yet, but I have heard so many great things about books from this author that I figured I'd include it, so you might have the chance to find it and read it with your kids.

Another I've had recommended to me but haven't yet checked out myself. I'd love to know what you think of it if it's one you've already read!

And in ending a prayer to St. Martin de Porres:

To you Saint Martin de Porres we prayerfully lift up our hearts filled with serene confidence and devotion. Mindful of your unbounded and helpful charity to all levels of society and also of your meekness and humility of heart, we offer our petitions to you. Pour out upon our families the precious gifts of your solicitous and generous intercession; show to the people of every race and every color the paths of unity and of justice; implore from our Father in heaven the coming of his kingdom, so that through mu tual benevolence in God men may increase the fruits of grace and merit the rewards of eternal life. Amen.

I hope your celebration of this saint's feast day is wonderful no matter how you observe this day. I'd love to hear if you have any special activities or foods that you do for St. Martin - comment here and share what your family does!

Image used under Creative Common liscence. Basilica of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception (Norfolk, Virginia), interior, stained glass, Saint Martin de Porres by Nheyob

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This post: Celebrating the Feast of St. Martin de Porres first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 30 October 2014 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

5 Great Tools for Teaching Your Kids the Faith (and a Giveaway!)

Jumping on the 5 Favorites bandwagon today to share with you not only some of my favorite resources for sharing our Catholic faith with young children. Especially with All Saint's Day on the near horizon, I've been thinking a lot about the ways we teach and pass down what we believe. I personally think that tangible objects and stories are one of the best ways for small children to grasp more complex concepts.

Our family has made an effort to live liturgically throughout the year. Sometimes I do put a little more effort into certain Saint's feast days and other times, we just do a simple story time or say a prayer. Whichever way you choose to approach learning the Faith, there are so many wonderful products and ideas to help you along the way.

Annnnd here are just 5 of my favorites… plus there's a special giveaway for 2 (!!!) of you, so read on to find out more.


Saint's Stories

This is probably my all time favorite for me to learn more as well as to share the Church and its rich history: through the stories of the Saints. There are so many beautiful tales to be told to encourage, to teach, and to all around enjoy. Start with the Saints you know and then delve into others you might not know as well. Some of our favorite books to start with:

Can You Find Saints?: Introducing Your Child to Holy Men and Women by Philip D. Gallery and illustrated by Nancy L. Harlow
The Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica by Kathleen Norris and illustrated by Tomie dePaola
Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
Saint Francis and the Wolf by Richard Egielski
Wenceslas by Geraldine McCaughrean and illustrated by Christian Birmingham
Lives of the Saints an Illustrated History for Children by Bart Tesoriero and illustrated by Michael Adams

Many of these titles are available to purchase used for an even better price, or we have even found many of them at our local library!


Saint/Marian Candles and Daily Prayer Time

This is a new addition to our days. For us, as homeschoolers, this is how we start every school day. My kids (ages 2.5 and 4.5) are so into it that they usually are the ones reminding me. We light the candle each day, cross ourselves, say a Hail, Holy Queen, and recite the Apostles' Creed, and then blow the candle out. We take turns as to who leads the prayer and who gets to blow the candle out. By lighting the candle, we are introducing ritual and also a sense of the special.

For candles, you can look on Amazon (Our Lady of Guadalupe Candle) or often they have them in the Goya section at grocery stores. Check your local Catholic stores as well as online bookstores.


Mass Books

Obviously this one is set to a certain place and time, but this has been such an instrumental way in helping our older son focus during the Mass. He is a beginner reader, and he can follow along easily. We have two different versions that we bring along: this one from Catholic Icing and then The Mass for Children by Rev. Jude Winkler OFM Conv.

This one is another that has caught my eye: The Mass Book for Children by Donna Piscitelli and Rosemarie Gortler and illustrated by Mimi Sternhagen


Saint figures

These are by far my 2 year olds favorite part about learning about our Faith. From nativity sets to single saints, these are such a fun and pointedly tangible way to get play involved in learning. It definitely adds the fun aspect to our Faith. Some favorites for us are wooden figures from Armadillo Dreams - they don't have any in stock now, but we own St. Lucy, St. Nicholas, and of course, St. Patrick from them.
Other great collections include:
Shining Light Dolls
PLAYMOBIL Saint Nicholas and Angel


CCC of America's Saint DVDs

Last but not least, there is nothing like being able to stick in a movie for 30 minutes of relative silence and still your kids are learning values and the life stories of those who have stood for Christ in the Church's history. It's a win-win situation.

One of our very favorite titles is the story of St. Nicholas. With Christmas coming up, you can bet Santa will be the topic of at least some discussion. Whether you celebrate the jolly fat man or not (we don't, but that's just us), he permeates our culture. What better way to answer your kids' queries than by sharing the story of where the whole concept of what is now known as Santa Claus came from? Also, don't forget that the Feast of St. Nicholas is before Christmas on December 6.

CCC of America has been so kind to partner with me and offer you, my readers, with not only one, but two copies for you to win. I have two copies of St. Nicholas, the Boy Who Became Santa to giveaway today. Enter in the Rafflecopter widget below for your chance to win!

You must comment on this blog post for any of your entries to be considered valid.

**Don't forget to check out the 50% off sale happening right now only until tomorrow at CCC!**

There are 13 possible entries, with a few options to come back daily and earn extra entries. I will use Rafflecopter's generator to choose the winner, who will then be announced here on the blog + via social media. Email address you provide will only be used to contact you if you win. U.S. and Canadian mailing addresses only. Entries will be accepted until 12:00am 6 November 2014. 

Disclaimer: This giveaway is sponsored by CCC of America, and they have been kind enough to provide me with a complimentary copy to review. However, I only review and share with you things that I love, and all opinions are solely my own. 

Linking up for Five Favorites with the lovely Jenna from Call Her Happy

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All rights reserved. ©Sarah G. Ortiz
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This post: 5 Great Tools for Teaching Your Kids the Faith (and a Giveaway!) first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 29 October 2014 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Podcast, A Sale, and a Meal Plan {7QTs}

Jumping on the Quick Takes train yet again this week after no peep from me all week on ye ol' blog. However, see QT#1 for proof that I wasn't completely silent on the internets this week. Also don't mind that I'm 2 days late.

Sally forth.


Look tasty? I did my first guest post in awhile yesterday over at Someday Saints. Gina graciously invited me to come over and share a Lentil and Squash stew recipe that I totally made up a week-ish ago. Since I am the WORST at writing down any sort of ingredient list or measurements, my super forgiving family had to eat it twice in one week, so I could make sure I had the absolutely correct info for anyone wishing to replicate. It turned out better the second time, which is good for you.

Anyhoo, go say Hi to Gina, check out her fabulous blog, and if you want the recipe, grab it for your kitchen. =)


Thank you so much to all of you, who last week during the QTs and then also on FB shared with me your minivan favorites, and most especially the whys of your choice. 

We are actually obtaining an intermediary vehicle from my in-laws to tide us over while we keep looking for one that more perfectly fits what our family needs rather than making a decision because we have to. So, thank you for weighing in! It was so helpful to hear from mamas who day in and day out are loading kiddos into their minivans. You had so many great pieces of advice (and even some things I hadn't even thought of!), so thanks. =)


Jamberry peeps! My online FB party is closing this Tuesday, so if you want to get in an order for holiday Jams for yourself or stocking stuffers/gifts for a friend, make sure you order soon. Go to my friend, Kaely's, page and then choose my party when placing your order.

I found the design your own nail art studio and got crackin' to make my own design, which I'd love to share with anyone interested. Featuring beautiful stained glass windows from a couple of European cathedrals, these Jams are only available through me. Just leave me a comment with your e-mail, so we can figure out payment.


Sale Alert!!!

You might remember that back in July I did a review of CCC of America's film 'The Day the Sun Danced'? Well, I am partnering with them again and want to let you know that now through Thursday all DVDs are 50% off - just use the code 'ENDOFYEAR50' when you are checking out. 

Also, be on the lookout for some fun giveaways here on the blog. =)


Anyone checked out the 'This Inspired Life' podcast yet? Oh man - Kristin is so fun! She's interviewed a variety of ladies from so many walks of life. I've never been a podcast listener up until this last week, but I decided to give them a try. They're the perfect length for me to get a good portion of the kitchen clean while getting to do something fun. 

Thus far I've listened to her interview with an Etsy seller, who makes these lumberjack dolls that are to die for, one with Haley from Carrots discussing Women and the Church, and when she talked to Kendra of Catholic All Year about discussing Sex with Your Kids. Check them out - you won't be sorry!

Plus if you're like me, your kitchen won't be sorry either.


This might be my over zealous nature to get everything in order before Advent, so we can focus on what Advent is about and not be cramming our Christmas prep in then, BUT I am nearly done with all my Christmas presents for our family. We do aim to be very simple with how much we exchange, but still, I'm even closing in on being done with the stockings… and it's not even the end of October! Pretty proud of myself.


And for the last bit, I'm joining in on another Link-Up because everybody needs some organization in their life, and Nell is one of my all time faves. So, here is my somewhat cheating Meal Plan for the week:

Sunday: Potato and Kale fry up, probably with some cottage cheese
Monday: Soup… thinking of a Winter style minestrone
Tuesday: Quiche - my boys have been begging for it.Wednesday: Having Dinner at friends
Thursday: Leftover night, if there are any left. On Leftover nights in which there are no leftovers, we throw together some grilled cheese (we get pretty fancy with the fillers!) or quick refried bean burritos.
Friday and Saturday: cheat days because we have a rehearsal dinner + wedding to attend, so I don't have to cook those two days...

And here's a cute picture of my boys to call this a wrap.

Linking up with Jen @ Conversion Diary

and linking up with Nell @ Whole Parenting

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All rights reserved. ©Sarah G. Ortiz
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This post: A Podcast, A Sale, and a Meal Plain {7QT} first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 26 October 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cod Liver Oil, MiniVan recommendations needed, and Jamberry Glam {7QT}

I don't really have much time to do anything but QUICK quick takes today. I have not forgotten about the blog, but SO much seems to be preoccupying my time and energy right now that I just keep putting off ever finishing the posts I begin. Getting away to write has just not been an option, and the whole attempt at writing while having kids running and screeching around me just hasn't been working. You get that right? So forgive me if you would for my lack of blog presence, and read on for a bit about what's been up.

Setting a timer for 20 minutes… assuming the house doesn't collapse around my ears, here goes…


Boy updates in short. (For those who care)

Dominic is killing Kindergarten - the kids LOVES workbooks, which makes him a rather easy student to teach. Star Wars is the newest obsession, and pairing it with his love for drawing means there are drawings of the Millennium Falcon, dewbacks, and droids decorating our dining room table most days. Also, I often get to be Princess Leia (I technically was a Han Solo fan back in the day though)

Blaise is potty trained. Phew. Thought he'd be more difficult to train than his brother, but I stuck to my theory that if you wait until they're ready (key word: they), it's faster and simpler. Worked. Again. Down to maybe one accident a week, which I call success.

Adrian aka Mr. Chunkypants is weighing in around 20 lbs at nearly 5 months, making him my 2nd biggest baby (Dom still holds the record). He is teething something fierce, finally rolled over this week (for Daddy - of course!), and is limited in his tummy time because this mama DOESN'T want an early crawler.


Asthma control has been on my mind a lot this month as we move into cold and flu season. As we think that is what spurs on Dom's episodes, I am working to learn how to boost his immune system as a whole as well as his lung health. Cue: elderberry syrup making, cod liver oil (trying out Green Pasture Blue Ice for the boys), Raw Probiotics, and will be picking out some essential oils to try this week.

I was also intrigued by this guest posted article at Carrots for Michaelmas on preventing Asthma through diet. We already adhere to many of these diet standards, but color me interested on learning more!


So once upon a time we were a one car family. Snugly we placed THREE carseats across the back of a Honda Accord.

And then this week, we became pretty much a no-car family. I say pretty much because we are still limping said Accord around for local errands. The transmission is giving out though, sooooo we are in a market for a minivan. Now I can finally fulfill my destiny as a soccer mom.

But for real, those that drive the MVs, give me your recommendations and what you love, love, LOVE about yours. =)


Totally random, but I figure I owe you something.

Are you also inundated in squash? You might have noticed in my fall decorating that we have a multitude of the colorful stuff. Although I use it as decor, anything that is edible, we also try to consume. Squash is my not my favorite, so any recipes you care to share that make the mooshy stuff more edible, so appreciated.

But, I promised YOU something. Here's a tip from my kitchen to yours. Instead of using a plain ol' regular spoon to get out the seedy stringy inside of your squash friend, try an ice cream scooper. It is so, so, so much more efficient. Try it, and you're welcome. 


Looking for something to read on ye old internets? This new series hosted by Olivia over at To the Heights has caught my eye. Featuring so many great ladies, several of whom I'm proud to call friends, each post will focus on a Virtue of our Blessed Mama - how much more perfectly can we prepare for Advent and Christmas than this?

Molly shared the first one this past Tuesday, so jump on board, and go read it!


And another thing for you to read in case you've missed it, Jenny over at Mama Needs Coffee is doing a most excellent job writing every day about the Church and its teachings on Sex and Marriage. It's so worth your time. As it's a month long piece, tackling different topics each day in October, I suggest you go back and hit the first 16 days, too!


Lastly, because I need some glam in my life these days when I find myself mostly surrounded by whining, poop, and dying cars, I'm hosting an online Jamberry party with one of my bestest of best friends, who sells the fancy nails.

Want some holiday glam or just something to spice up your everyday nails? Shop on. If you're up for joining the FB party this coming Tuesday evening (21 October), let me know, so I can send you an invite! There are prizes to be won, plus Kaely will be on hand to answer your queries.

Hope your October is more fabulous than mine. =)

Linking up with Jen @ Conversion Diary

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All rights reserved. ©Sarah G. Ortiz
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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fall Decor Ideas for the Decorating Challenged

“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

Fall is in full force here in Western NY. Colorful leaves cover the browning grass crunching when you step outside. Temperatures finally warrant sweaters and scarves (some days…). Pumpkins and apples fill the patches and orchards, ready for the picking. That crisp aroma overtakes the air outside. 

I wish I could run about, grab armfuls of it all, and sprinkle the whole feeling of Fall about my house. I can't though. And decorating. Yeah, so here's the thing. Um, confession time. I am not a true decorator of the seasons. Yes, Christmas and birthdays, I'm there. The decoration master. But then the rest of the year I kind of am at a loss as to what to do. I don't own window decals, wreaths, and garlands for each month. I'm no good at switching out the paraphernalia that "decorates" my surfaces.

Who's got the time, money, and storage space? If you want to know who has picked up those awesome talents and peruse their gorgeous homes, please check out all the lovelies who are linking up in this Carnival below! Talent abounds, and hopefully you'll be inspired. Bonnie was kind enough to invite me because she's just such a kind soul. Thankfully, despite my lack of decorating genius, I think Fall might be the easiest season to attempt even the most meager of decorating.

If you're feeling lost as to where to even start, read and look on. I promise you we're probably tent buddies in the decorating camp. Our homes can totally rank in that not overly gorgeous but still perfectly fall category. 

I consider myself a practical decorator. For instance, you can see here on my cloth cart (when you're a mostly paperless home, you get one of these fancy things!) is a basket of apples. Practical, beautiful, and ever in need of a refill. 

Pumpkins. The staple decoration of the fall. Cheap, fun to pick (yay fall activity!), and can be put pretty much anywhere. Hey, if the baby nibbles on it, you can count it as a serving of veggies! 

My kids LOVE picking out pumpkins. We do manage a trip or two each year out to the local pumpkin patch, but to be honest, most of our fancy lil squash friends are from Trader Joes. $1.69 on the pricey end!?! I'm in! Bonus feature: they help keep squirmy helpers happy while the grocery shopping happens. Win/win!

Mums are also a fun, easy to obtain item at this time of year. I, however, can never keep them alive more than a week, so you won't see any amongst our decor.

In case you thought I was getting too put together, here's a peek at reality:

Also, speaking of Trader Joe's, if you're amongst those lucky enough to find themselves within shopping distance of one, please do yourself a favor and grab a tin of the Pumpkin Spice Rooibis tea. You're welcome.

You can even count it as a small bit of fall decor. See below.

Last, but not least, my coup de maƮtre, our dining table.

Our table is not only for eating but also suffices as our arts and crafts table, and when needed a place for schooling as well. This is the one place in the house I always try to have some sort of decor going as a centerpiece. Sometimes this is seasonal (typically in the form of flowers), but we also use our table as a place to decorate as we celebrate the liturgical year.

Don't be fooled. Although I love a table cloth as a covering, we rarely have one on as I feel like it's then always in the the wash rotation. It is a nice touch though if I do say so myself.

Flowers and squash/pumpkins courtesy of Trader Joes. Table cloth and golden pitcher - Goodwill finds ($5> each)

I saw these candelabras at my favorite consignment store about a month back. Apparently I must have gushed quite a bit about how cool they were because my husband went back that day and picked then up for me. They add a bit of the spooky autumnal feel to the table, right? Come winter, you might find me pacing the hallways, candles alit, a la Jane Eyre.

And there you have it. My overly simple, anyone-can-do, autumn/fall inspired decorating ideas. I told you it was easy to copy.

The ever lovely Bonnie over at A Knotted Life is hosting an Autumn decorating blog hop carnival today, of which I'm excited to be a part of! Make sure to go check out these other lovely bloggers and their homes:

Don't miss a post! Subscribe via the RSS or email links in the top righthand corner. 
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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: Fall Decor Ideas for the Decorating Challenged first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 8 October 2014 

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