☘️St. Patrick’s Cathedral – Ireland🍀

My daughters and I had the joy and privilege of touring St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland last August. While I didn’t share these photos last summer, it seemed very appropriate to share them today!We feel especially blessed to have seen it, as the cathedral is closed in Ireland today due to the current global pandemic. God willing, it will reopen in a couple of weeks, but for today, we can enjoy beautiful pics many bloggers are posting. 
Incredibly, I had never realized until I was at the cathedral last summer that stained glass windows served as learning tools for those who were illiterate. What an interesting historical fact to have learned about one of the purposes of stained glass windows. From the cathedral’s website: “Stained-glass windows can be incredibly beautiful pieces of art, but they would also originally have acted as an educational resource for the Church. At a time when most people were unable to read or write, stained-glass windows were used to explain the stories of the bible in picture form. To follow the story of a stained-glass window you read from bottom to top, rather than from left to right (as you would when reading a book). The story always begins with the image in the bottom of the left hand window pane, then moves to the right and the centre panel is read last.”
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy St. Patrick’s Day today!

“Mini Holidays” Help Us Celebrate Life and Keep Us Moving Forward

We tend to prioritize Christmas, Easter and Independence Day over holidays that we don’t get off work or school, such as the upcoming Valentine’s Day.

Rightly so. When we’re celebrating our country or our God, such holidays should take precedence.See the source imageAlthough many grumble about the so-called “Hallmark Holidays” – those that we spend on but keep working through – I fully embrace them. I’ll even put up a few decorations, albeit nothing like the winter wonderlands we all erect for Christmas. I like the little joys the mini-holidays bring.

I forgot this truth about myself as I grumpily walked through a store the week after Christmas.

Wandering the aisles on December 28th, I saw the line up of Valentine’s, a few Shamrocks and a couple of cotton tails. Although I admittedly grunted out loud because I couldn’t locate clearance Christmas wrap, I quickly shrugged off my silly disappointment and embraced the idea of moving forward.See the source image

Momentarily mesmerized by the glittery Valentine cards, I thought of my friend who we lost three years ago. The month before she met Jesus, she was talking about the trip we were about to go on together. It was her entire family of about 15 and us closest friends and our families, totaling around 27 for a week in the Outer Banks. As we finalized a few details, she looked at me solemnly and said, “I’m afraid that when we get back from this trip, I will decline rapidly…I’m looking forward to this but realistically, I probably won’t make it to Christmas.” She was thinking about the next big celebration. The anticipated vacation to North Carolina had kept her moving forward.

That was in June. She passed away in July, shortly after we all returned from that final trip together.

I don’t know why my mind goes to such deep places so quickly while merely rummaging through pretty things at a store🤔, but it gave me perspective. Retailers prematurely stocking shelves for holidays that don’t happen for months is a silly thing to grunt about. These little holidays keep us moving forward. Nothing wrong with spending a few short minutes staring at a sea of sparkling red in one aisle, green in the next and happy, fuzzy bunnies in the third aisle. We can enjoy a little pretty inside stores and our homes when the world outside is sometimes ugly.

I agree that the constant “too-early” merchandise displays are annoying and if we let them, they can rob us of living and enjoying the moment or truly, completely enjoying whatever holiday season it may be. I resist the retailers’ psychological ploy intended to create urgency that we “better get the stuff now” – 2 months ahead of time – when what we have stored in the basement is no doubt already more than we need.

However, I choose to buy candy hearts and expensive chocolates for my February 14th kitchen table, rejoicing that I have people to love and spoil. I put up shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day and decorate for Easter with the holy reminders along with big, stuffed bunnies. Who doesn’t feel better after squishing a soft, cuddly bunny? 🙂

The Superbowl tomorrow, MLB kickoff in March, NHL playoffs after that…these too give our families reasons to gather and eat and celebrate life. Some may scoff, but if such celebrations bring a little joy amidst the mundane and routine, why not?See the source image

(Click on images for source(s).)

Reuben Braid and Irish Cream Coffee

CutReubenThrowback Thursday: Both recipes are quick and very easy! Even those who don’t like corned beef (there are a few in my house) may find the Reuben tasty!

Homemade Irish Cream CoffeeIrishCream

Ingredients
12 oz. (1 can) evaporated milk

1 cup heavy cream
½ cup 2% milk (I used 1%)
¼ cup sugar (I used a few packs of Splenda)
2 T. chocolate syrup (I eliminated this)
1 T. instant coffee crystals
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used 3)
¼ almond extract (I eliminated this)
Need ½ cup brewed coffee for each cup of Irish Cream

Directions
In a blender, combine the first eight ingredients; cover and process until smooth. Store in the refrigerator.

For each serving, place coffee in a mug. Stir in 1/3 cup Irish cream. Heat mixture in a microwave if desired.
Yield: 3-1/3 cups.

Our own addition – we topped the drinks with whipped cream and green sugar!

Reuben Braids

Ingredients
6 oz. (1 cup) cooked corned beef brisket (I purchased ½ lb. thin sliced corned beef)

1 ½ cups (6 oz.) shredded swiss cheese (I made one braid with cheese & one without-both great!)
¾ cup drained and dried sauerkraut
1 small onion, chopped finely
3 T. Thousand Island dressing
1 T. dijon mustard
½ teaspoon dill weed (I used 1 & ½ t.)
2 packages (8 oz. each) refrigerated crescent rolls
1 egg white beaten
Sesame seeds

Directions
In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Unroll one tube of crescent dough onto an ungreased baking sheet; seal seams and perforations.

Spread half of corned beef filling down center of rectangle. On each long side, cut 1-in.-wide strips to within 1 in. of filling. Starting at one end, fold alternating strips at an angle across filling; seal ends. Repeat with remaining crescent dough and filling. Brush egg white over braids; sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. (Mine were golden brown within 20 minutes, so keep an eye on them.) Cool on wire racks for 5 minutes before cutting into slices. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 2 loaves (8 servings each).

Enjoy! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

How to cut dough to form braid.

How to cut dough to form braid.

Reuben Braids and Irish Cream Coffee

ReubenBraidCutReubenAlthough it’s rare that I post recipes, I tried two St. Patrick’s Day recipes yesterday with my youngest daughter and decided to share them! Both recipes are from Taste of Home, but I altered both, which is noted below. Click on the titles to be linked to the original recipes (and if you would like to see more professional photos!).

This was the very first time I’ve ever purchased corned beef! Both recipes are quick and very easy! Even those who don’t like corned beef (there are a few in my house) may find the Reuben tasty!

Homemade Irish Cream CoffeeIrishCream

Ingredients
12 oz. (1 can) evaporated milk
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup 2% milk (I used 1%)
¼ cup sugar (I used a few packs of Splenda)
2 T. chocolate syrup (I eliminated this)
1 T. instant coffee crystals
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used 3)
¼ almond extract (I eliminated this)
Need ½ cup brewed coffee for each cup of Irish Cream

Directions
In a blender, combine the first eight ingredients; cover and process until smooth. Store in the refrigerator.
For each serving, place coffee in a mug. Stir in 1/3 cup Irish cream. Heat mixture in a microwave if desired.
Yield: 3-1/3 cups.

Our own addition – we topped the drinks with whipped cream and green sugar!

Reuben Braids

Ingredients
6 oz. (1 cup) cooked corned beef brisket (I purchased ½ lb. thin sliced corned beef)
1 ½ cups (6 oz.) shredded swiss cheese (I made one braid with cheese & one without-both great!)
¾ cup drained and dried sauerkraut
1 small onion, chopped finely
3 T. Thousand Island dressing
1 T. dijon mustard
½ teaspoon dill weed (I used 1 & ½ t.)
2 packages (8 oz. each) refrigerated crescent rolls
1 egg white beaten
Sesame seeds

Directions
In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Unroll one tube of crescent dough onto an ungreased baking sheet; seal seams and perforations.

Spread half of corned beef filling down center of rectangle. On each long side, cut 1-in.-wide strips to within 1 in. of filling. Starting at one end, fold alternating strips at an angle across filling; seal ends. Repeat with remaining crescent dough and filling. Brush egg white over braids; sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. (Mine were golden brown within 20 minutes, so keep an eye on them.) Cool on wire racks for 5 minutes before cutting into slices. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 2 loaves (8 servings each).

Enjoy! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

How to cut dough to form braid.

How to cut dough to form braid.