Tuesday, December 13, 2011

St. Lucy's Day

We had a most exciting morning in the Cotter home. Bean and I woke up early to prepare traditional treats for the Feast of St. Lucy, including Saffron Buns (above) and St. Lucia's Braided Bread (below).

I just use Pillsbury cans for both of them, you can get the details and history of this Feast from my post last year.

 After breakfast was ready we woke up the boys with our surprise!

Happy Feast Day!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hot Chocolate Cones

Last week I was in charge of the craft for our Little Flowers Girls' Club meeting (think Catholic Girl Scouts). In the club the girls learn about a virtue and a saint at each meeting. This month was orderliness and St. Zita, who was a servant.

With Christmas around the corner I wanted to do something that could be a gift, and since St. Zita often worked in the kitchen, we made an edible one! The girls were given the instructions which they needed to follow in order (orderliness, check) for the craft to turn out right.


Hot Chocolate Cones.

We made a bunch of these and are giving them out this week to Bean's various extra-curricular teachers. They are simple enough that she was almost able to make them entirely on her own, which made her very proud. BTW, I didn't invent them, familyfun.go.com did, maybe. But, they don't have pictures and I like pictures when doing a project, so I took some for you.

Here is what you will need:

  • Hot Chocolate mix (I bought the individual packets because they were on sale)
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate chips
  • Cone bags (Hobby Lobby has them)
  • Clear rubberbands (we used the little clear hairbands)
  • Scissors
  • Items for tags (ribbon, glue, hole punch, card stock, directions)

Step 1: Empty 4 packets of cocoa mix into a cone bag

Step 2: Trim the bag down, rubberband it shut and put it into another cone bag.

Step 3: Layer in 1/4 c. chocolate chips and 3/4 c. marshmallows.

Step 4: Rubberband and trim again.

Looking good!

Step 5: Add a tag!

Here are the directions off the tag so you can copy and paste:

Heat 5 cups of milk and chocolate chips over medium heat until the chocolate chips have melted. Reduce heat to low and stir in the cocoa mix until the drink is smooth. Serve with marshmallows. Makes 4-6 servings.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

DIY Catholic Christmas Gifts

Last year I posted some ideas for homemade Christmas gifts. I thought I'd put them into one post for you. Aren't I thoughtful.

So roll up your selves, get out your glue gun (wait, I don't think any of these crafts require a glue gun, but you get the idea) and start crafting!

Holy Medal Wine Charmers

It doesn't get much easier than this...

Saints Matching Game

You can do this one with family members too...

Christmas Coasters

A simple way to reuse those Christmas cards...

Family Board Game Pieces

Pair this with a fun Catholic board game and you are in...

Felt Bags

Throw in a few books on the Saints, virtues or the faith and it's all in the bag...

okay that was bad...

Flower Headbands

Yea, they aren't really Catholic themed, but they are so cute, cheap and fun...

I'm still recovering from making 2,400 chocolate covered pretzels, so I have nothing new to show for this year. Yet.

I hope.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Jesse Tree Ornaments

Does your family do a Jesse Tree? I love the tradition so much that when Bean was 16 months old I handmade a set of ornaments for our family. Apparently I thought she was old enough to start comprehending the Bible. The next year some of my friends did a swap, but I'm still glad I have my own special set that is wholly unique.
I pulled out the ornaments today and did some replacing and repairs, as they tend to get beaten up each season. Our ornaments have evolved over the years and they don't follow the strict tradition. For us, it's turned into a time to walk through Salvation History in a chronological order, so our kids can understand the story of our family. 

When I was making mine it was helpful to have some examples to get ideas flowing, so I'm posting what we do, in hopes that it can helps those who are taking on the adventure... which I highly recommend you do! For the order we pulled out some main events from the Bible Timeline. The scripture verses for where you will find each section is listed, but please don't think we read all of what is included!

Creation - World (Genesis 1-2:3)
The Fall - Apple (Genesis 3)
Noah’s Ark - Rainbow (Genesis 6:9-9:17)
Tower of Babel - Tower (Genesis 11:1-9)
Blessing to Abraham - Stars and Sand (Genesis 12:1-3 and 15:4-5)

Sacrifice of Issac - Wood Bundle (Genesis 22:1-18)
Jacob Steals Esau’s Blessing - Lamb (Genesis 27:1-29)
Joseph and his Brothers - Coat of Many Colors (Genesis 37-45)
The Plagues and 1st Passover - Door with Blood (Exodus 6-13)
God Provides Manna - Bread (Exodus 16)

Ten Commandments - Tablet (Exodus 20)
The Promise Land - Grapes (Numbers 13)
Aaron becomes High Priest - Stick with Flower (Numbers 17)
Bronze Serpent Heals the Israelites - Serpent on Stick (Numbers 21:4-8)
Fall of Jericho - Crumbled Wall (Joshua 6)

Samson’s Strength - Pillar (Judges 14-16)
Samuel and Saul - Crown (1 Samuel 15)
David and Goliath - Sling Shot (1 Samuel 17 and 2 Samuel 7)
Solomon and the Division - Torn Kingdom (1 Kings 12)
Elijah and Elisha - Mantel (1 Kings 18-19 and 2 Kings 1-2)

Jonah - Whale (Jonah)
Exile and Persecution - Furnace (2 Kings 17)
Zerubbable is allowed to Lead the Jews - Scroll (Ezra 3)
Nehemiah Rebuilds Jerusalem - Wall (Nehemiah 2: 11-20)
Ezra Reads the Law to the Jews - Heart (Nehemiah 8)

Esther - Crown (Esther)
Maccabees Revolt - Shield (1 Maccabees 1-3)
Purification of the Temple - Candle (1 Maccabees 4)
The Annunciation - Mary (Luke 1:26-38)
Birth of Christ - Star (Matthew 2)

Let me know if you have any specific questions about materials or how I made a particular ornament! Happy Advent!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

All Saints Day/Halloween Saints Costumes

Last week I received an Oriental Trading Company catalogue and flipped through it expecting to see the same crafts and cheap toys that I steal ideas from and re-create myself, but then something caught my eye.

$6.00 robes and $3.00 veils in any color in the Christmas pageant section.

You're shocked too right? I about called my husband I was so excited.

Let me explain. For the past several years I've been making my kids saints costumes. While I have (mostly) enjoyed doing that, this year, it's just not happening and I don't want a repeat of last year when I scrambled to make a costume for my 2 year old. My original plan was to not dress him up, then guilt set in.

Look at my adorable St. Anne. She's wearing a black robe and red veil. Humm, I could buy that costume for my 5 year old for $9.00.

Mixing and matching robe and veil colors lead to endless saint possibilities. If you order all black your child can be Benedictines like Sts. Benedict and Scholastica. Brown for Carmelites like Sts. Francis of Assisi and Therese of Lisieux. White for your son to be a Dominican like Sts. Dominic and Thomas Aquinas and the next year you can add some wings and a halo so your daughter can be an angel. OR you can add an over the arm sash to a brown robe and become almost any biblical character.

Unfortunately, they don't have toddler sizes, and you'll need to attach the veils on as hoods for some of these, but I don't think that would be too difficult... think tucking it in behind the kids neck and using safety pins. Still if you think outside the box, you could come up will all kinds of cheap ideas!

They also had some other options.

For $10.50 my now 3 year old will be St. George the dragon slayer. And for $6.00 my 5 year old daughter will be Queen Esther in a purple robe. I'll need to make her a gold sash and crown, but that will be nothing compared to years past.

They have plenty of beautiful Mary costumes for as little as $13.00 and of course St. Joseph! The robe is so colorful I think you could be either biblical Joseph.

And thanks to the Easter pageant, your child can even be Jesus for $10.00. I love the beard, but it's $6.50 more.

They actually sell monk costumes so you can have a Franciscan for as little as $7.99!

I'll be sure to post some pics of the kids when we put these cheap and easy costumes on for our up-coming All Saints events!

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Rosary and Kids

Last year I posted a few times on integrating the rosary into family life. Since October is dedicated to the rosary, and today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, I thought it would be appropriate to pull them out of the archives!

Part 1 consist of making an edible rosary. I've seen people make these with mini-cupcakes too, so cute!

Part 2 is all about how to make praying the rosary a pleasant experience with hands on activities.

Part 3 shows how we have used art to help make the rosary come to life.

Part 4 features some our favorite rosary products.

For DOZENS of ideas on how to teach your kids about the rosary check out this link from The Catholic Toolbox. Also, we love Holy Heroes, check out their Rosary CD set!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Flowers for Therese

"My mission - to make God loved - will begin after my death. I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will send a shower of roses." St. Therese

I love embellished headbands. I'm not really sure where this obsession came from, but it's becoming rare to see me without one. For the past few weeks I have been wanting to find the time to make some headbandable felt flowers to add to my collection and today, on the feast of St. Therese, seemed to be the perfect time to do it.

We always celebrate the Feast of St. Therese because she is FOCUS' patroness and we love her. Why is a cloistered nun the patroness of a missionary organization? Glad you asked. Head over to the FOCUS equip blog to find out, my husband posted on it yesterday.

After eating our traditional rose colored and shaped pancakes Bean and I got to crafting.

The instructions on how to make them are almost identical to the instructions I posted on how to make headbands using scrapbook flowers. The only differences are replacing the scrapbook flowers with flet flowers (I printed off some patterns from Danielle's Place and used them as my guide) and sewing on buttons instead of using craft brads.

The back of a felt flower, I used ribbion with this one.

I took my inspiration from Running with Scissors who showcased some beautiful bouquets, although mine are not nearly as ornate!

Bean was a perfect model and is very excited about her new headbands...

and clips.

I think St. Therese would approve.

Later today we'll pull out the kid's books on St. Therese that we picked up in Lisieux last year, as well as our Treasure Box books that I posted on last year. I'm stilling trying to figure out a fun flower dessert, so we'll see if that happens.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her earthly life is a defined dogma of the Catholic Church. The Feast of the Assumption, celebrated every year on August 15, is a very old feast of the Church, celebrated universally by the sixth century. It commemorates the death of Mary and her bodily assumption into Heaven, before her body could begin to decay--a foretaste of our own bodily resurrection at the end of time. Because it signifies the Blessed Virgin's passing into eternal life, it is the most important of all Marian feasts and a holy day of obligation.

Time out. I wish I wrote the above paragraph, but I didn't... of all websites I have to hand it to about.com. Typically I'm not a fan of them because the site is so ugly (don't tell their mom I said that) and I'm often directed there by accident, but hey, they nailed it.

In case you are worried that you didn't go to Mass today you don't need to be running to confession. Since the Solemnity falls on a Monday it's abrogated. Ooooo, fancy word. It just means the obligation is lifted.

I love solemnities. Not only because my husband gets the day off of work (hooray for FOCUS!), but because they celebrate some of the most important aspects of our faith. Honoring Mary and remembering that one day all in the world will be right and we too will resurrect from the dead is so exciting. I really can't imagine what it will be like, but I seriously can't wait.

Because the feast falls while gardeners and farmers are harvesting there are traditionally blessings of fruits, herbs and flowers on this day. For the blessing and more info check out Catholic Culture.

My daughter picked some flowers from her very own flower garden and took them to Mass with us today for the statue of Mary. She was quite proud.

We also had a special tea time today (there was no tea, so it's more like a snack time, but tea time sounds much more official... and cool) in honor of our Lady.

To eat we had blueberry muffins which are white for her purity and blue for her mantle. To drink we had what I like to call Assumption Punch, which is made of fruit and the herb mint for the items we traditionally bless today. Directions are below!


  • 3/4 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 6 small lemons)
  • 1 c. strawberries (heaping)
  • 1/2 c. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 c. orange juice
  • 3 c. sprite
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 c. crushed ice
  • A few sprigs of mint

Step 1: Squeeze the lemons. If you roll them to soften them up a bit before you cut them open it makes the process much easier. Also, you can strain the juice when you are done to get out the seeds, or you can pick the seeds out before you squeeze them.

Step 2: Puree the heaping cup of strawberries. Any appliance with a rotating blade works here.

Step 3: Add the lemon juice and strawberries to all of the other liquids listed above. Stir it all up, garnish with mint and enjoy the deliciousness of summer.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Feast of St. Clare

It was an exciting day in the Cotter household because it's Bean's feast day!

This photo has little to do with the Feast of St. Clare, but it was taken today.

I probably don't need to tell you this, but we had donuts for breakfast. Done.

Then we listened to a Glory Story on St. Clare. Glory Stories are produced by a Catholic company called Holy Heros who put out some fabulous resources for Catholic families.

The story was a little intense for my sensitive girl, but in the end when everything worked out she was fine. We had some great conversations over the story later in the day, so she was definitely taking it all in! I hope to add more of these to our collection over the years.

When St. Clare's convent was under attack by Emperor Fredrick II, who was at war with the Pope, she brought out a monstrance, held it high and began to pray. Her prayers were heard and the army fled. Thus you often see St. Clare holding a monstrance.

Naturally for a craft today we made monstrances. 

I believe this is the last time I will ever give my kids glitter glue.

Finally we read the book Clare and Francis by Guido Visconti. This book was a gift Bean received when she was born from a great friend ours, Stacy. It is a beautiful book with amazing details that I am still discovering each time we read it.

St. Clare, pray for us!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Feast of St. Anne and Joachim

Yesterday was...

my feast day! 

Yes, my name is Lisa, you have not lost your mind. But, Ann is my middle name, as well as a namesake of my Grandma, Mom, Aunt, Sister and Kevin's Grandma. St. Anne is the Grandma of Jesus and the patron saint of housewives, giving me so many reasons to love her!

To celebrate we began the day with donuts. I tried to get a picture of Bean eating her donut and she said "Mom, I think we have enough pictures of us eating donuts" and turned her head away.

Um, I guess it's true. We eat a lot of donuts on feast days in the Cotter house. Point taken.

The rest of the day we did some decorating, including the poster you see at the top of the page. You can download the picture of St. Anne from Waltzing Matilda

St. Anne is traditionally shown wearing a red dress and green mantle: red for Divine Love and green for immortality. So, we had a red and green dinner consisting of green spinach with red crasins, red sauce pasta, green beans (fresh from our garden!) and sangria. 

And the best part...

dessert pizza. So good, so so good. I called on the doughboy for the sugar cookie crust and used cream cheese frosting, easy.

For prayers to honor the day you can pray the Chaplet of St. Anne. I think that's how you know a saint is really cool, if they have their own chaplet.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Stained Glass Cookies

I've had the pictures for this post for a while, but was unsure of when to post it. So I thought now is as good of time as any.

Stained glass cookies could be used on a number of occasions. The circle with the cross reminds me of a host, so it would be great for a Eucharistic feast day or a first communion party or the cross with the heart could be used for the Feast of the Exhalation of the Cross or the "T" with a blue in the heart could be for Theotokos (A Marion title in Greek meaning God-bearer). The "J"s are for Jesus.

I'm sure people far more creative than I could create a heart with blue and red rays for Divine Mercy, or a heart with a crown for the Sacred Heart of Jesus... really the possibilities are endless. So, next time you need a creative religious treat, come up with something fabulous and then send it to me, sound good?

Here's how you make them!

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 stick of soft butter
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • Jolly Ranchers (4 candies of 3 different colors)
Let's start with the fun part... the smashing of the Jolly Ranchers!

Step 1: Place 4 candies of the same color in a plastic bag.

Step 2: Pound them. We did this in the basement because it was nap-time.

Success. Now is a good time to preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Let's move on to the dough.

Step 3: Cream the butter and the sugar together.

(I love my Kitchen Aid Mixer!)

Step 2: Add the egg and vanilla.

Step 3: Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Step 4: Then mix it in with the wet ingredients.

Step 5: Roll our the dough to a standard 1/4 inch thickness.

Step 6: Using cookies cutters, cut out various shapes with shapes inside of them. We also used a knife for smaller shapes, like the heart in the cross. Place your cookies on a baking sheet LINED WITH PARCHMENT PAPER... just wanted to make sure you knew that this is important.

Step 7: Fill your inner shape with a layer of crushed up candies. Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 6-10 minutes. Once the candies are melted, the cookies are ready, thus the huge span of cooking time. DO NOT LET THE CANDIES START TO BUBBLE!!!... just wanted to make sure you knew that this is REALLY important. If they start to bubble they will taste like burnt sugar, not good.

Step 8: Let them cool and enjoy!