This blog's mission is simple--to encourage moms who are married to non-Catholics and raising their children in the Faith. If you know a mom who needs a little encouragement in continuing her efforts, I would be delighted if you would share Kathleen's Catholic with her. Thank you!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Receiving Christ With A Single Shoe

originally posted April 27, 2010

by Kathleen Blease

Every mom goes through it. It's a time in her life when she realizes that Mass is not fun and/or peaceful and fulfilling, but it's a time of training her children. Any chance of hearing the gospel, contemplating the homily, or receiving Christ in perfect peace becomes pretty slim. Yet, there is a fullness that comes from this all-important maternal task.

My all time low was when my toddler was sitting on my lap and began spitting on my arm. He then took his finger and drew in his spittle. It was the final straw at the end of a long line of antics, and I was sure the entire parish heard me when I stood up and flew my arms in the air and yelled, "Yuck. Oh, yuck. Just stop. Just stop!" But, no. No one heard me. In fact, when I returned to my senses I was still sitting squarely in my seat, facing forward trying with deep breaths to absorb Father's words.

Yes, every parent has this moment. You will love to read about Jennifer's. Click here to visit her blog, Conversion Diary. In her article When Church Isn't Fun she explains beautifully how our sweet Jesus still comes to us in the Eucharist, with our arms wrapped around a drooling toddler dressed in a single shoe and shirt pulled over his ears. (Oh, wait...those were my kids.)

God bless.



My Envy At Mass Was Finally Put Away

originally posted August 18, 2010

by Kathleen Blease

Going it alone was hard, but the Lord gave me my solution.

I used to sit in Mass, in between my two boys, and look around and notice all the families. Moms and Dads flanking the kids. I envied them. When one child acted up, Dad was there with silent discipline. When the family prayed the Lord's Prayer, they were united with clasped hands. Kids could look to the left and see their mom, then look to the right and see their dad. When my children were little and hard to contain, I longed for my husband to attend Mass with us, but I knew I couldn't force it. Yet my longing turned into frustration and then into envy as I watched other families march to Holy Communion together.

Then one day, it hit me. It was so clear. It happened while I was teaching our boys about the Mass, how the gifts are taken to the altar. And when the bread, wine, and treasure are offered to the Lord, we should be putting ourselves there on the altar as well. We should offer Him everything, I told them. Offer your successes throughout the week, your failures, your fears, your celebrations...everything that is in your life and in your heart. Who knows you better than Our Lord? He will treasure what you give to Him.

Yes, there it was. All those years when I stewing in my envy I should have been offering the needs of my husband and putting them on the altar. At first, I offered his discernment of conversion, not sure there even was a discernment, but it didn't hurt to try. Then over time I decided to forget about what I wanted my husband to be, and I began to think about what my husband really needed on a daily basis. Even though he hadn't detailed his challenges in a list for me, as his wife I knew well what those were. So I offered them at the altar, right along side my own little successes and failures and needs and fears and wants. And, yes, even my envy. I finally gave it to the Lord. It was time to give it away for good.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

From The Little Catholic Kitchen: A Quick & Fresh Recipe For Tomato Season

by Kathleen Blease

In The Little Catholic Kitchen, we use simple ingredients that are easy to find to make something special. To find more recipes, visit The Little Catholic Kitchen. Bless us, O Lord, and these, thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty through Christ, Our Lord. Amen!


Cannelinni Beans with Fresh Basil Tomatoes Over Penne


Here's a fresh new recipe just right for tomato season. This is a quick sauce that's bursting with flavor, and it serves up lots of protein, thanks to the beans. The idea here is not to cook the tomatoes down, but rather just to warm them through, which keeps the sauce light and fresh, just right for a summer-time pasta dinner. It takes only about 10 minutes to prepare (once the pasta water is boiling), and it's surely economical and satisfying for families big and small. Omnivores and Vegans alike can dig in.

If you don't have fresh tomatoes, don't worry. Just use two cans of petite diced tomatoes. Fresh basil, oregano, and parsley, however, are a must. In Rome, you will find this dish swimming in olive oil. Here, I suggest only 1/3 cup, but you should feel free to use as much as you like. Use whatever pasta you have on hand--penne pasta, bow ties, twists, or even linguine all work well. By the way, Cannelinni beans are also called Great Northern Beans.

Serve this dish with a crusty bread and olives for a complete and hearty meal. To me, it has summertime flavors written all over it, and it's one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it!

3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced or diced
4 large fresh ripe tomatoes, diced (or two 15-oz cans petite diced tomatoes, do not drain)
1 15-oz can cannelinni beans (or Great Northern Beans), drained and thoroughly rinsed
1/2-1 c. fresh basil, coarsely chopped (amount to taste)
1/4-1/2 c. fresh oregano, coarsely chopped (amount to taste)
1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. dried penne pasta
1/4-1/3 c. fresh parsley, coarsely chopped (amount to taste), for serving
grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Yields: 4 generous servings

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to manufacturer's directions. Meanwhile, begin sauce, which will require only a few minutes.

In a large saute pan, add olive oil and gently saute the diced garlic over medium heat. Be sure it doesn't burn. As soon as you can smell it cooking, add the beans and saute together for a few minutes. Add the basil and oregano and saute a minute more. Add the tomatoes and simmer for only a few more minutes, until the beans and tomatoes are just tender. This dish should not be cooked down; the beans and tomatoes should be just about tender but yet still a little firm. It should have a fresh appearance and a wonderful fragrance from the garlic and herbs. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Also add a little more olive oil to taste, if desired.

Drain the pasta and spoon into pasta bowls. Top the pasta with the cannellini beans and tomato sauce. Sprinkle with plenty of fresh parsley. The heat of the pasta and sauce will bring out the parsley's wonderful aroma. Provide Parmesan cheese at the table for serving.


Monday, July 18, 2011

From The Little Catholic Kitchen: Two Refreshing and Quick Summer Desserts

In The Little Catholic Kitchen, we use simple ingredients that are easy to find to make something special. To find more recipes, visit The Little Catholic Kitchen. Bless us, O Lord, and these, thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty through Christ, Our Lord. Amen!


Vanilla Lemonade Sorbet


(photo copyrighted by Roger L. Blease)

This dessert is easy to make and deliciously refreshing, especially on a hot summer day. While the cicadas chimmy, sit back and enjoy the freshness of summer berries heaped over scoops of this icy treat. All ingredients are to taste, except the water. Use as little or as much of sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice you would like. Make it sweet, or tart, or sweet-tart. Feel free to use a sugar substitute, such as Stevia, but be sure to adjust the amount since substitutes are extra, extra sweet.

1 c. granulated sugar

1 c. bottled lemon juice

dash of vanilla

4 c. of water

sprig of mint for garnish

special equipment: electric ice cream maker (be sure your maker has a large enough capacity for 5 cups of liquid. If you are not sure, it would be better to cut the recipe in half.)

Yields: 1 1/2 quarts

In a mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients. While your ice cream maker is ON, pour in the mixture in a thin stream. Process in machine until it looks like a soft Italian ice. Remove sorbet from machine and place in a large plastic container. Freeze to almost harden, about one hour. Scoop into serving bowls and serve immediately. If you would like, top with berries (the berries in the picture were just handpicked), blueberries, or strawberries. This is also delicious served as a slushy, in a tall glass with a straw.

Note: If you freeze the sorbet overnight, it will be as hard as a rock. Simply remove it from freezer about 20 minutes before serving. The sorbet in the picture was frozen overnight. As you can see, it still made a beautiful presentation, and I think it tasted ever better after the flavors had time to meld together.

Vanilla Ice Cream In A Snap


It takes just five minutes to make the cream mixture. You'll need an ice cream maker, of course.

Two years ago, we gave all our brothers and sisters ice cream makers for Christmas, but we didn't buy one for ourselves. During the following summer, we dreamed about fresh ice cream and all kinds of frozen desserts. As if on cue, recipes popped out of the now-defunct Gourmet magazine and cried out, "Get an ice cream maker!!" Funny, we never noticed those recipes before. So, last summer there was no need for dreaming. My husband surprised me with a Cuisinart model that came with an extra mixing cylinder. I...we...love it!

The first time I made this recipe, I thought I would be good and use just a little salt. The result was a dessert that tasted just like frozen whipped cream, and it had a funny way of coating our teeth. Hmm. While we were happy to have it, it was a disappointment. Then it dawned on me that it was all about the salt. So, while I have listed here merely a dash, you should make it a BIG dash--the kind you see TV chefs tossing into their recipes while they say, "Now we need just a little salt." You might also want to keep this in mind for the vanilla, too. While 3/4 tsp. seems to be the standard (as thus that's how I have it listed), I really don't measure. I pour it in while counting "one, one-thousand." I'm sure that comes out to more than 3/4 teaspoon.

One more note: While you are pouring the mixture into the ice cream maker, be sure the maker is already running. Then pour the mixture in a steady stream. If you don't do these two things, the liquid will immediately freeze to the sides of the cylinder. (This is another beginner's mistake I made.)

Easy and tasty!

Yields: about 1 1/2 quarts

1 c. whole milk

2 c. heavy whipping cream

3/4 c. sugar

dash of salt, preferably sea salt (which is a little sweeter than kosher or table salt)

3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

special equipment: ice cream maker with frozen cylinder, silicone spatula, deep container for freezing finished product.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients until they are well combined. The sugar will not dissolve completely; this is normal.

With the ice cream maker already running, pour the mixture into the cylinder in a steady stream. Use a silicon spatula to scrape all ingredients out of the bowl and into the cylinder.

Run the machine about 25 minutes. Test the ice cream by gently dipping in a spoon (keep the machine running). If it stands firmly on the spoon and seems like "soft serve" in texture, it is ready. Remove the machine's lid and blade, and scoop the ice cream into a deep container. Cover tightly and refrigerate. In about an hour or two, the ice cream should be nice and firm and easy to scoop out.

Enjoy!










Saturday, July 16, 2011

Getting Out the Needles and Using What I've Got

Using up cotton yarn. Two hand towels down, more to go.
The stripes make them related, from the same family.
by Kathleen Blease

I'm on a cleaning kick. Actually a cleaning out kick. There's a difference, no?

My idea of cleaning is scrubbing toilets and mopping floors. But cleaning out, that's another matter, and I'm starting with my knitting bag. Today, I'm on a tear to gathering up my bits and pieces of yarn and using what I've got--getting rid of the yarn stash. My mom and I just sent off some hats for Knit for Japan!, and now I'm stitching up cotton hand towels. My husband watches and says, "I can't believe you can turn these out so fast."

Yes, indeed, I can! I love to knit and crochet. My grandmother taught me many moons ago when I was just eight years old, and every time I take the needles into my hands, I think of Grandma clicking away as she talked. Talk. Clickity-Clack. Talk, talk. And like magic, after just a few visits to her house, another sweater would appear on her blocking table.

A whole bunch finished and topped  with
a washcloth that's made from the very last bits.
Charles' Yarn Shop was a treasure trove--the colors stacked on shelves, the needles in the glass case, and books upon books of how to do this and how to do that. It was a creative haven in Grandma's basement...and that jar of sugar cookies was a great draw, too. You might enjoy my post, called About Rose and Yarn.

Grandma didn't waste time. As soon as I was old enough to get bored, she called me into the breezeway and sat me down with a hook and my very own skein of yarn. The chain stitch came first. Nice and even. Grandma sat next to me on the glider and instructed: "Hold that hook like a pencil, Kathleen, just like you learned in school. That's how you can crochet fast with an even hand." Then I was on my way to the single crochet and the double crochet. Then on to how to read a pattern. Zoom!! The days flew by.

I'm still knotting together yarn with a hook and clickety-clacking with needles. Recently, my mother gave me a huge bag of fisherman's wool, the real thing, 100% merino. At first, I planned on making an afghan, but I have so many already. Then I thought about an aran sweater for my husband. I love knitting cables, but the fisherman's white didn't appeal to him. I already have a genuine aran sweater expertly handknitted in the round, so I'm not in need of one for myself. (I found the sweater under a pile of clothes at a thrift shop. I paid just three bucks! It still has the distinct scent of lanolin. It's an awesome find.)

With the wool, I decided to experiment. The picture below shows a test run. Believe it or not, I've decided to knit kitchen curtains.

Wool curtains? Only if the wool is free.
Made in mock baby cable on size
15 needles.
 Yes, I know what you are thinking, "Merino wool curtains? Are you crazy?" Well, I guess it's better to be crazy with something I got for free than to spend money. But isn't the curtain lovely? It's made with a mock baby cable on size 15 needles, which creates an airy lace. After it was blocked, it took on a very natural and lovely drape, and it's so light the breeze easily pushes it back and forth. I think I will treat it with Scotch Guard to make cleaning a little easier. But I'm not set on this. So far this is only a test run. I decided to try knitting the curtains since we have several windows in the kitchen and fabric alone would be well over a hundred dollars, even with bargain hunting. Besides, I am much more skilled at knitting than sewing.

To tell you the truth, it's the journey that I enjoy, too, so I'm not afraid of taking on a large project. Or experimenting. In fact, my husband marvels at how I can freely and happily rip out row after row, then to try again later.

I'm on board for the ride, and I really like it. And for a frugal nut like me, the great thing about knitting and crochet is that if my project runs off the tracks, it's easy to rip it out and save the yarn for something else. (Ever make a mistake cutting fabric? It's a heartbreak that really doesn't happen with knitting or crochet.) There is no waste, especially if you enjoy the time with needles in your hands--even if a project is a complete failure. For me, it's all time well spent.

In fact, the completion of a project is not my favorite part. I like working through a pattern and feeling the project come to life in my hands. There's something special about creating row after row of a lovely design from what is basically just a single piece of very long string. Okay, there are times I become frustrated, mostly when I know a pattern should be working for me yet I can't quite grasp it, but I know after all these years that it's a matter try, try again. Patience is a virtue that has never let me down. Take it like a big spoon of medicine, and lo-and-behold everything works out, right down to the correct stitch count--yes! It helps, too, that I'm not in a rush to get to the end. When a project finally gets blocked, I feel like I just finished a good book. It's time then to reflect and decompress, then off I go looking for more.

Grandma's mother crocheted and knitted, as Grandma did, as Mom does, and now as I do!

One more thing I'd like to brainstorm is a Rosary pattern, perhaps for a pillow or blanket. It would feature stitches that represent the Hail Mary, the Glory Be, the Our Father, the Fatima Prayer, the Creed, and the decades that recount the mysteries. Well, Peggy Bowes found a way to beautifully apply the Rosary to working out, so surely--somehow--we can find a way to apply the prayer to knitting and crochet. Wish me luck!

Do you have projects you would like to share? Please feel free to leave a comment and link up.

God bless!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Weeds are Welcome!

by Kathleen Blease


wild blue flox
photo source: http://darylrice.com/pawilist.html
I think weeds could be the most precious of Pennsylvania plants. They are sweet and unassuming, they crop up anywhere they please, and they are quite hardy. They come in an array of lovely colors--from soft pastel to vibrant neon. I have to admire that. Sometimes I'm content to see the lawn go unmowed...a better chance to enjoy a few more days of the tiny buttercups and minuscule blue flowers that blanket the...

Wait a minute! Did I just say that?  Could it be I am becoming soft and losing my gladiator gardener spirit? Is this the same woman who flexed every muscle and stretched every tendon to pull arm-fulls upon arm-fulls of  weeds from eighteen tomato plants and ripped away hundreds of "little daisies" that were choking the babies off the butternut squash plants? This couldn't be the same mom who had to give in with exhaustion and retreat to the cool shade of the porch for a refreshing drink, only to turn to her charges staked on top of the hill and call out, in the words of the Governator, "I'll be back!"

Each and every time I approach the garden, it is not with a zeal but with a darn-you determination to take out those buggers once and for all. My husband admires the piles of  hanks I yank out of the ground, but then in time he cautions me, "Honey, you're going to hurt yourself. It's time to stop." Stop? I have miles to go before I sleep! And the womanly machine of cleanliness among the dirt churns on. As you can see, I approach my veggie garden with what my grandmother called a tiger-like zest.

Ah, yes. But, dear readers, that's the vegetable garden, the plot that feeds the kids, my precious little ones--or should I say my voracious teens who probably would support the boxed cereal and dairy industries if left to their own devise.


A short view of the lay of the land. The lawn sweeps up along
the right and heads to the garden and the grape arbor.
To the left are the mill and pond.
And behind us are the pool, orchard, and woods.
  Let's talk about the other terrain, the one I am not able to weed and water due to pure exhaustion, and there's lots of it.

When we first moved here, I had every intention and hope of clearing out the nooks and corners so I could experiment and ponder over new cultivars, the kind that catalogs promise will bloom from the wet spring through the chilly fall. I dreamed of a showy and intoxicating display, whatever the cost--even human. And those catalogs showing up in our mailbox every January didn't help quash my unrealistic dreams.

If you can imagine a land that's squeezed in between veggie garden and woods, tucked into hills with an uneven lawn that reaches into an old orchard that makes us happy when it produces a mere basket or two of fruit, then you can surely imagine our place. And after a few years as director of land maintenance, I am coming to my senses, albeit a little bit at a time. These sorts of things take a while for me.

Just today, as I was walking across the lawn and thinking it was getting shaggy again, I had an epiphany that has probably been baking for a while. Here it is: There are plenty of nooks (even sweeping scapes) I am happy to give over to nature, and she always fills them in happily. No seeding on my part is required, and the flower show each year is worth the long, if neglectful wait. Thank goodness I have finally obtained this basic knowledge before the labor took too much out of me. What a relief.
Pink clover takes over the vinca just as the cultivar
finishes blooming.

The pink-flowered clover, wild blue flox, Queen Anne's lace, common milkweed, wild rose, honeysuckle, and the wild raspberries surely make a palette and nosey perfume with which my gardening experience could never compete. And why would I try? Why wrestle out the clover to put in lilies? Why hack away the honey suckle to put in some cultivated climbing beauty that can't handle the rugged terrain the muskrat digs into and the chipmunks and moles tunnel without shame? Along the edge of the garden the wild raspberries and thistle has taken over, and what a joy to sneak among them to pick the juicy berries. (Granted, I have to wear long rubber boots, but trudging in the brambles actually cleans the garden mud from their deep treads. That's one less chore for me.) By the garage, vinca vine and English ivy have been overrun by pink clover. And why not? The vinca finishes blooming just in time for the clover to reveal its summertime show, something that would require the use of a journal and a few years of observations and notes if I were to get it right on my own.

pink clover
I'll admit that the flowers we find in the catalogs and nurseries are intriguing and down-right lovely. But in the end my practical side, my human and frail side, has to accept the reality that I can do only so much, then I have to let Creation creep in and take over. And ain't it lovely! 


Below are a few more pictures of the lovely weeds that have made their place here.

God bless!




iron weed
photo source: http://darylrice.com/pawilist.html

milkweed
photo source: http://darylrice.com/pawilist.html


Okay, this isn't a weed. This is a small portion of the
clematis that has taken over an arbor near the back
entrance.
Times this by two; it also has take over the
other side. Every fall, I cut this down to the  ground
and am met with a big show every summer. It is at least
fifty years old.
Purple coneflowers have naturalized.
The old concord grape arbor stretches out next to lilies. Wildflowers and naturalized cultivars flank it.



 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

From the Bird & Nature Journal: Several Wonderful Summertime Observations

Visit the Bird & Natural Journal for more joyful observations (and some not so joyful)
about God's amazing creation.





I believe I spotted a
large wood turtle.
photo source: PA Herp
Identification
July 4, 2011

Several Wonderful Summertime Observations

During the last several days, I've had the pleasure of making terrific observations, most of them during my morning cup of tea on my porch.

One day, I spotted a turtle, its shell about the size of a large dinner plate, making his way to the pond. He was moving rather quickly, and by the time I went into the mud room to slip on my boots and headed back to the pond, he was already at the edge of the water. His legs were hefty, but they moved fast, and when he slipped into the water he seemed content. He didn't look like a snapping turtle, as I had a good view of his head and I didn't see a beak type of mouth. It was a pleasure to watch him swim about for a while.

In other pond news, a pair of mallards has nested here, and mama has brought her brood of 8 ducklings into the main part of the pond, just often enough for us to get a good look at them. But in her natural and wild ways, when she saw people around she retreated her gang into the honey suckle and wild rose brambles that line the creek that feeds the pond. I've been tempted to search for her nest but I don't want to disturb them. I hope that they felt safe and welcome here to nest again next year.

Several yards from the pond, I spotted a large Eastern Cottontail, and she was about the size of a groundhog. Could she have been feasting on our bean plants? My husband and I agree that while groundhogs--who desimate our garden--should be eliminated (and by the sounds of things this morning, our neighbor agrees), the cottontails will be left alone. We'll simply make more efforts to stear them away from the garden. In an effort to keep some food safe and for ourselves, we grow all our lettuces and herbs close to the house in a high-traffic area. Still, the chipmunks have made this their turf and they scurry across the sidewalks and the porch in the early mornings and evenings. Our younger cats watch them from the window, while our elderly feline spots them from her favorite chair in the shade outside. Besides the little tunnels they produce, their activity seems to be harmless.

I mentioned the wild rose and honeysuckle. In the early mornings, when the sun is drying away the dew, the perfume of the two wild plants is intense and lovely. I rememer when I was a teenager, I bought honeysuckle perfume from Avon, and I remember just wanting to bathe in it! It still smells so lovely to me.

This year, I'm sorry to say, my giant zinnias are not doing well. After putting seeds down three times, I have merely a few plants that germinated, and that's disappointing. Last year, the zinnia bed was lush and bright, and it attracted Eastern Swallowtails (see photos below), as well as plenty of hummingbirds. I will miss them this year and treasure the few that have managed to pop up.

June 20, 2001

Oops. Sorry, Buddy, I almost stepped on you!

My kids find it amazing (and weird) that I will even talk to the snakes I see. It's bad enough that I talk to the cats, but to snakes? One day, I was collecting sticks after a storm, bending down and picking up several at a time. Oops. That one wasn't a stick! Then today, I was in one of our flowerbeds when I almost stepped right on another snake. Both of them were about a yard long. Thankfully, they are just garter snakes, which are harmless. Coming across them is not that unusual around here, and we're happy to see them since they consume large amounts of rodents. I can't help it, but when I spot one just next to my hand or foot, I blurt out, "Oops. Sorry, Buddy!" Then I stand there and watch it slither away. I'm always captivated by how they move and how their muscles work. So cool.

June 15, 2011
Common Mergansers: Excellent divers

Two mergansers were visiting again today. I sat by the pond to watch them swim. While they were warry of me, they didn't shy away, and I sat quietly. I was surprised to see that they are excellent divers. Compared to the mallards, who simply flip their backsides up to scoop up foods from under the water, the mergansers actually dive and swim under water for about four or five feet.







Monday, July 4, 2011

My Rosary Workout--Setbacks and Revelations

by Kathleen Blease


A single decade Rosary I fashioned out of twine--great for
Rosary walks. You can learn how to make a knotted Rosary
by visiting Rosary Army or Life is a Prayer.


In The Rosary Workout, author Peggy Bowes explains how to combine exercise with one of the Church's most beautiful prayers, the Rosary.

It works best with repetitive type exercises, such as walking. So last spring, I began to walk and pray. You might remember my post, called The Walking Rosary, or Oh! The Adolescent Male!

In my efforts, I've had a few set backs. I do believe I must have the worse knees a young woman could have, and feet that flair up in pain over the littlest amount of work. I've always been that way, despite trying different kinds of sneakers and workouts, but over the years the problem has become bigger. So, I have to approach a repetitive-type workout with care. As much as I'd like to "feel the burn," that's just not a good idea anymore. Of course, I didn't listen to my own instincts last Spring, and I couldn't resist the temptation to pump it up and really get going. It felt great! But a few workouts later, I regretted it. Easy does it, Kathleen! I am still learning about myself.

I remain a big fan of Peggy's Rosary Workout. After all, what a great way to be in touch with our Creator, to feel what He has created in us and to see His world all around us along the way. Entering into Mary's school through the Rosary is a great way, too, to discover who we are both physically and spiritually!

Many years ago, I approached working out in a completely different yet common way. I used to power walk every day, then I turned to swimming laps three times a week. This was shortly after I served as the fitness book editor at Rodale Press, working with outside authors and the editors of Bicycling Magazine and Runner's World. It was a common idea that exercise was a great way to relieve stress by "letting it all out," releasing your grievances, and putting all that negative energy into your workout. In other words, the idea was that you would use your frustrations as a source of energy. I practiced this for several years, and it appeared to be working as I rarely tipped the scale over 110 pounds, at five-foot-five.

 Then one day it dawned on me what really happened. It was a revelation. In fact, what this method did for me was ramp up my frustrations even more. By the end of each workout, my adrenaline was high and I had pinpointed and aligned each and every issue of my grievances, making them seem that much more important in my life--surely a path to being self-centered. This was a common method of relieving stress through exercise, and well-lauded in the secular fitness book industry, yet it's easy to see that it took me somewhere that was hardly a place of wonderment, thanksgiving, and the peace of Christ!

So, having said all that, little by little I will continue with the workout and take my Rosary along with me. I'll set my walking pace more carefully and stay on flat surfaces and enjoy each little Hail Mary I can offer to Heaven. And despite my own setbacks, I will happily and joyfully continue to endorse Peggy's book.

But before I sign off, let me tell you that I also enjoyed reading--not just using--Peggy's workout guide. She provides a wonderful overview of the history of the Rosary and its humble origins, a section of the book you will want to share with your children. And she explains in detail how to use the Rosary as a way of creating a workout schedule that builds your stamina. Did you ever think that a fitness agenda can be specially tailored to Our Lady and her prayer? I never thought of it, and Peggy explains exactly how to do that, improving and advancing both your fitness level and your spiritual attachment to Heaven and Our Blessed Mother.

I'm not at all disheartened by my lack of heartiness, at least in my joints. Maybe this is just another way Our Dear Lord will teach me patience and some self-control, keeping my goals small, sincere, and reachable. As I'm writing this, it also occurs to me that this could be His way, too, of teaching me how to say No to all those summertime goodies, like ice cream and Italian ice, since I won't have the excuse, "I'll just work it off tomorrow."

Have fun and stay fit--physically and spiritually!

God bless!
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