Guest Post: Baby on a Budget

While trying to get ready for our little one, we discovered two great ways to use what we already had to obtain new items of the baby! Learn more in our guest post at Catholic Newlywed.

Meatless Meal: Baked Ziti With Eggplant

(Easy, meatless, inexpensive)

-1 box of ziti
-15 oz of ricotta cheese
-1 bottle of tomato sauce (You could make your own but, for convenience I went with store bought.)
-1 small block of mozzarella cheese (cubed), reserve a few slices for the top
-Grated parmesan cheese (to taste)
-1 medium eggplant cut into cubes

Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare ziti as directed on the box. Be careful not to over cook it because it will continue to cook in the oven. Mix the ziti with ½ of the tomato sauce so it doesn’t stick together. Meanwhile, sauté the eggplant with olive oil and garlic in a pan until it is just cooked (not too mushy, not too hard).  Put a bit of tomato sauce down in the bottom of the casserole dish. Mix the eggplant, the ziti, the mozzarella cheese and the ricotta cheese together. Spoon the mixture into the casserole dish.  Top with left over mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese and tomato sauce. Cover with silver foil. Bake until bubbly.

Our Wedding Cake

From the time I was little, I have loved cannoli cake. Therefore, I was sure my wedding cake would have cannoli filling whenever the time came.

Our Cake Topper:
The hubby and I went to college together and as freshmen (Spring 2001) got a Madam Alexander Bride and Groom in our Happy Meals at the McDonalds in Downtown Scranton. Ironically, five years later when we were planning our wedding we had discovered we saved them. We decided it would be best to put them on the side of our cake rather than on top because we weren't sure they would fit but we wanted them included.

Our Cake Design:
Our cake was designed and baked by St. Honore Pastry Shop in Port Washington, NY. We were referred to them by the wedding planner for our venue. They honored every one of our requests. Our cake was four tiers with two different fillings and two different layers of cake in each tier. The fillings were cannoli cream and mocha. The cake was two layers of chocolate and one of vanilla. The cake was covered in fondant and a hand drawn scroll design. Our wedding was nautically themed and therefore, we had white chocolate seashells and starfish topping the cake as well as cascading down the front of the cake.

It was so tasty! Even one year later, after freezing it, it was amazing!

For more wedding cake stories, see the Wedding Cake Link Up at The Magnolia Pair

7 Quick Takes

1- This week is "February Break" in NY. Schools are closed! Basically, this means I've had the luxury of being on vacation ALL WEEK LONG! I've been running errands while working in some time with friends. It has been wonderful!

2- The BEST part of this week is that the hubby was able to take today off so, we can spend the day together. Of course, we have absolutely no plans. Unfortunately, it is raining so that puts a damper on many of the outdoor options for the day but, I'm sure we'll find something fun to do.

3- Yesterday, I used a gift certificate I got for a prenatal massage, mani, and pedi. It was wonderful! I was a bit apprehensive because I didn't want anything to harm the baby. But, it worked out beautifully and it felt great!

4- I have officially finished changing my name. (Yes, I know it took over a year and a half.) In NYC, if you live in Brooklyn or Queens you have to go to the "local" social security office. Unfortunately for Queens, ours in in Jamaica. (Not a place, I want to go by myself.) After speaking at length with the guy at the 1800 number for social security, it was determined that if you are just changing your name (NOTHING ELSE) you can go to any social security office. Therefore, I could go to the one on Long Island. Yay!

5- This week I got to spend time with my friend from high school and her three month old son. It was so much fun! We were making all kinds of silly plans for the summer once our little one comes along. I can't believe how close it is getting.

6- The baby's room is officially empty. Now, I have to decide whether to paint the room blue or stick with beige like the other room. If I could just make up my mind I would be able to get on my way.

7- I'm not sure why but I have decided that it is easy to take care of our little one while he is still inside. I guess I'm just getting nervous about his arrival. Oh well, I enjoy our special time together where I don't have to share him!

Lent 2012

Lent is not an easy time of year for many people. A friend of mine lost his father several years ago during Lent and his brother who suffers from a mental illness usually ends up hospitalized at this time of year. My concern always turns to his brother's well being as well as his own strength at this time. We have been very fortunate as a family that Lent has been interesting and fun.

For most of my life, I attended Catholic school. (Pretty much from Kindergarten through the end of college.) As a child, my grade school had us fill Operation Rice Bowl mite boxes. Being one of four, we used to compete with each other to see whose mite box would be fullest at the end of Lent. This was just one way that Lent became fun.

Lent, for Catholics, includes fasting and abstaining from meat on Fridays. Despite the fact that the official ruling is that you don't have abstain from meat until you are 14, we participated as a family as soon as we were eating solid foods. I'm sure it was easier for my mother but, it also taught us that this was something that we did for Lent as a family.

Fasting/abstaining from meat was one of the things that made Lent interesting to us a kids because it was another change of pace. For a period of time, our church would host "Soup Suppers" on Friday nights. Families would cook large batches of soup and we would all gather in the parish center to have dinner together.

This year my plan for Lent is to pray daily for our seminarians. This is a bit selfish but, right now my prayer life is practically nonexistent and I thought it would be a good place to start since my brother is currently studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy.

O Lord Jesus Christ, great High Priest, I pray that You call many worthy souls to Your holy priesthood. 
Enlighten our Bishop in the choice of candidates, the Spiritual Director in molding them, and the professors in instructing them.
Lead the seminarians daily in Your unerring footsteps;
so that they may become priests who are models of purity, possessors of wisdom and heroes of sacrifice;
steeped in humility and aflame with love for God and man; apostles of Your glory and sanctifiers of souls.


Mary, Queen of the Clergy, pray for us.

Fasting will be a bit more difficult because usually I give up caffeine (something I truly loved prior to pregnancy). This year I will keep a gratitude journal for forty days logging one or  more things I am grateful for each day. I will continue to abstain from meat on Fridays. (If you need ideas, this is great website.)

As the final pillar of Lent, I will donate my time to run at least one after school activity for students at work.

How will you be keeping this Lent?

Equipping Catholic Families

Lots of 100s

Last week I hit a milestone in my pregnancy...LESS THAN 100 DAYS until we meet our little one!

Today our Blueberry (the car) hit 100,000 miles! I bought this car new six years ago when I started working at my current job. We've certainly been through a lot together.

Today we received out car seat from Amazon and the most exciting part was it was completely FREE! (More about that later!) We finally decided on the Britax B-Safe infant car seat. My mom and I took five minutes and installed it in the car today and it fit! We had a hard decision between the Britax and the Chicco Keyfit.

We ended up deciding on the Britax because it had exactly the same safety ratings as the Chicco Keyfit and this one clips into our stroller frame so we didn't have to register or purchase an additional item. The seat is absolutely adorable! I can't wait until our little one can take a ride in it!

Martin Luther School Maspeth - "Prepare Ye".mp4

We sang with the kids during Advent. I just got a copy of the the hymn and it sounded great! (Don't mind the false start.)

7 Quick Takes Friday

1- Our visit with the hubby's parents last weekend was lots of fun. We went to Jack Halyards in Oyster Bay for dinner with my mom and the hubby's parents. They had a great prix fixe menu with a ton of choices. I can't wait to go back there again. An added bonus was that they use for reservations so I didn't even have to call them! We definitely didn't really need reservations but, I'd rather be safe.

2- It seems like grades are ALWAYS due! I feel like we just got finished with the high school semester grades and then middle school interim grades were due. It's a little crazy.

3- The weather is beautiful! Two days of close to sixty degrees. We actually made it to 62 today in Central Park. I am so glad the weather is nice and we haven't had a lot of snow. (We had one day and we weren't even home for it!) I have been telling my boss since the weather got cold that I certainly would not be coming in if it was snowing. Looks like I've lucked out so far!

4- We are spending Super Bowl weekend prepping my parents house for our big move in May. On Sunday, our friends Matt and Sara are going to come over and help us move some furniture. Afterward, we'll watch the game.  (Go Giants!)

5- Words with Friends on Facebook has become a slight addiction. It seems like more and more people are playing. It's fun to be able to play with all different people. Generally, they are people that I never would have played with before. I wish they had a platform that would allow students in different schools to play one another. I think it would be really neat for kids to get that kind of experience.

6- OOO! My work family scheduled my baby shower for March 16th! I'm super excited that we will get to celebrate the arrival of our little one with my friends and work. We spend so many hours together and we truly have weather many storms together. I love the idea of having this time set aside for our little one.

7- Thursday was an incredible day at work. My "at-risk" class made significant progress with regard to the realization that they understand more when they come to school regularly. Many of them were talking about getting more involved in the Title 1 program and are looking forward to the addition of Title 1 math next year. (Long story as to why we can't have it this year.) I've been battling a cold and they were my motivation to come to work and stay the day. They truly made it worthwhile. They are great if I could only get them up to grade level with their math skills we'd be made in the shade.