Feb 20 2014

Montessori Economic Geography Stamps

The Economic Geography Stamps are now available for pre-order at Garden of Francis. (click here)

They will begin shipping out prior to March 1. I am taking pre-orders to see if it is worth purchasing the tackle-boxes and the wood holders in bulk, or just buy a few at a time as I need them.

My son is so excited! 

(ok, I am too!)

I am so happy to be offering these for substantially less than the ONLY other set available anywhere online that I can find – and they correspond with our KotU geography album!

By the way, side-note: if, as we are using them, anyone wants a different stamp image made, the process I’ll be using can very easily accommodate this! In fact, after this first batch of these ones, I am going to look into making stamps of other images for other themes.

Montessori Elementary Economic Geography Stamps – corresponding with the Keys of the Universe Montessori Elementary Geography Album chapter on Economic Geography.

Each  polymer (not rubber, but like rubber) stamp image measures 3/4 inch at its widest; mounted on a 1 inch square cube – with the image imprinted on the top of each cube for easy reference.

Select which set you would like: the core set contains 26 images of mineral, plant and animal resources; the supplementary set contains 14 additional images in more specific items.

Each corresponding tackle-box comes with a cardstock print-out of the included images for that set.

CONTENTS CORRESPOND WITH AMI MONTESSORI ELEMENTARY TRAINING ALBUMS. And are most specifically designed for Keys of the Universe albums.

Purchase your own ink pads according to the color designations of your choice (see the elementary Montessori geography album for further details).




With the process we are using to make these stamps, we can VERY easily create custom orders and we are looking to create designs related to the Faith (especially as related to the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd):

true vine, grapes, chalice, paten, altar, Good Shepherd, sheep, cross, dove, flame, shooting star, etc.

We are definitely taking suggestions! We can make them from 1/2″ up to paper size…..



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Dec 22 2013

Advent Jesse Tea

Published by under Family Life,Scripture


I had some fantastic girl-time this past Saturday, with some of the sweetest girls in my corner of the world.



The theme: Salvation History via the ancient symbolism of the Jesse Tree – except, instead of a tree, we used a tea ;)


The Goodies

1. “Jesse Tea” – TEA - we had peppermint tea; peppermint/peach tea (YUM!!!); and hot chocolate for the non-tea drinkers, with a touch of peppermint — peppermint? it’s winter, the weather is CRAZY – so… health benefits! (we had some sugar, but mostly healthy items — yet to be aware of the time of the year and how things DO go around — and in thanksgiving that the 5 families in attendance have ZERO sick girls right now, let’s keep the health going). Plus it helped with breath ;) 

2. “Adam’s Apple” (Genesis 3: 6) – APPLE with 1 gummy worm (the girls opted for quartered apples)

3. “Noah’s Ark” (Genesis 9: 12-17) – 3 GUMMY WORMS in rainbow

4. Abraham’s Stars (Genesis 15: 5) – CUT THE APPLE during the presentation to show the star

5. “Isaac’s Bundle of Sticks” (Genesis 22: 6) – 8 PRETZEL STICKS

6. “Jacob’s Ladder” (Genesis 28: 12) – Same pretzel sticks, built into a ladder

(isn’t it interesting how God can take our weaknesses and turn them into strengths? *HE* can work all things for good…. so we can re-use these same objects to show us something new and better)

7. “Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors” (Genesis 37: 3-4) – 4 GUMMY WORMS (2 folded in half for the “body”, with one on each side bent at 90 degrees bottom half as part of the body, top half as the arms extending out)

8. “The Burning Bush” (Exodus 3: 2-3) – BROCCOLI AND RANCH (3/4 cup of ranch is dyed with 1/2 tsp turmeric to show the “fire”)

9. “Moses’ Tablets of the Law” (Exodus 34: 1) – MILANOS (we did raspberry/chocolate – YUM – and least cost per ounce)

10. “The Root of Jesse” (Isaiah 11: 1 and 10) – CARROTS

11. “David’s Star Tea Sandwiches” (1 Samuel 17: 12-51) – STAR-SHAPED SANDWICHES – cut into triangles then top half turned to create 6-pointed star. 

12. “Bethlehem, House of Bread” (Matthew 2: 5-6) – DONUT HOLES (could have made scones or small biscuits – short on time and the donut holes were calling my name)

13. “John the Baptist’s Honey” (Luke 1: 41; Matthew 3: 3) – HONEY in tea (could have had honey on biscuits/scones if I’d made those)

14. “Angelic Messengers”  (recall various angelic messengers we know about in the Bible) – ANGEL-SHAPED SANDWICHES – cookie cutter

15. “Pure White Cakes for Our Blessed Mother” or “Flowers of Jesse” or both – TOMATO AND CELERY for flowers (thought about doing a white frosting made of cream cheese, powdered sugar, touch of milk, homemade vanilla – spread on graham crackers, but with the donut holes instead of bread, thought against it this time)


 Left-overs and bread trimmings? Went to the “boys” (my son; the father and brother of one of the girls at the tea party — who all went off for a few hours so we girls could just be girly — in our fancy hats!)

Hm. No picture of me. I had a santa hat because my two fancy hats were on loan. 


The Ladies


The Ladies again
couldn’t decide which I liked best :)
Best Jacob’s Ladder constructed with pretzel sticks


“This sandwich is SO GOOOOOOD!!!!”

(apparently so is the white-sprinkled chocolate donut hole ;) )

This young lady is so full of joy -

she finds it everywhere -

and spreads it everywhere!

AHA! She CAN be serious!
but apparently not for long ;)

(she was tipped sideways to sneak into another picture for this one)

LOVE her 3rd lip there ;)


Enjoying the tea-party


So sweet!And such shining eyes :)


Trying to avoid her photo being taken.Gotcha anyway!


Thank you everyone for coming!


Have a wonderful remainder of Advent and a fantastic Christmas season!


God bless!


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Dec 10 2013

Homemade LIQUID soap


There are so many sites out there in the internet-world describing how to make liquid soap – and most of them can be described in one word:


Seriously? The same bar soap just liquified needs to be THAT hard?


I think not.


The problems with what is out there:

1) store-bought bar soaps (and many soaps bought online, but not all) have the glycerin removed during the soap-making process. Therefore glycerin needs to be added back in to the soap to help it “be” liquid.

2) Alcohol and other additives can be DRYING. These are not necessary – neither for preservation (most liquid soap keeps itself preserved, or one can use particular essential oils for preservation – vitamin E is great too) nor for any other reason (I had a second reason but have now forgotten it).

3) Starting with liquid soap kind of defeats the purpose. Seriously.

4) Dr. Bronner’s Castille soap is great – but a little secret: castille soap is simply olive oil soap. Guess what!? You can make that at home.

5) The ones that do provide a recipe from scratch, want you to use a different form of lye - Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) instead of what is typically used in bar soaps: Potassium Hydroxide (KOH). I do NOT understand this. I have put out some requests and have heard no responses. If YOU know why, please respond, because I genuinely want to know the reason why a different form of lye would be needed for liquid soap.
Now. Why would you want to start with bar soap (that was liquid during the soapmaking process to begin with) and liquify it? Because not everyone can have lye around. It’s dangerous stuff with little ones or if you don’t have the greatest coordination. I think I’m pretty decent and I’ve had a couple of minor incidents with yellowed curling finger nails and one spot on my arm. All is well now, but it was pretty scary (and stinky). If you cannot have lye in your home, purchase a “full body bar soap” – this is MY terminology alone, not an official label. What you are looking for is a simple, all-natural soap containing ONLY the ingredients YOU want (you can add more if you want during the process, but make sure there is nothing in there you DON’T want) – and make sure the glycerin has not been removed (this is what I call “full body” – it’s all the soap, nothing removed). Grate it up into a saucepan and add twice as much water as the amount of soap you have. Bring to a gentle simmer and stir almost constantly until the soap has melted – add any additional ingredients you want. Allow to cool – if it gets too thick, warm it back up and add water about 1/2 to a full cup at a time (you can gauge the amounts based on the thickness – very thick, add more water; getting close to what you want add less at a time), stirring and cooling until it gets to the thickness you like. After a time or two making it like this, you’ll recognize the thickness it needs to be when “hot” to be the consistency you want when “cool”. This is how I always used to make our soap.



So how do *I* make liquid soap now?

Those of you who visit my home and recognize the pitcher: Rest assured I do watch it. Remember that my alternate dish soap is this SAME soap plus coconut oil soap. It’s JUST soap ;)


I had 2 more of the “smaller” jars as well. From that one pitcher of soap!!!

Start with making olive oil soap, adding the highest amount of the required range of water. When any soap is made, a typical lye calculator will give a range of water amounts to use – use less if you want to set up faster; more if you want it to set up slower. Olive oil soap takes a while to set up anyway, so I typically use on the lower end if I am making bar soaps. For a recipe of 32 ounces of olive oil, I need 4.2 oz of Sodium Hydroxide (lye) and 8-12 ounces of water. I made a recipe last week with 15 ounces of water (I didn’t want to over-do it because I did want the oil and lye to be close enough to saponify well. This all perfectly fit into my beautiful glass pitcher.

I used a stick blender to bring it to trace, but I used to wait and stir and wait and stir – sometimes up to a full day to get the olive oil soap to trace. I LOVE stick blenders ;)

Then I separated it into two large old spaghetti sauce jars, filling each about half. I filled the rest with water and stirred. Added essential oils (in this case I used lavender, tea tree oil and grapefruit essential oils as well as vitamin E – to personal scent-preference). Let it sit. Stirred the next morning – it was THICK. Poured some out into 2 other jars and filled up with water again. Within 12 hours: thick again.


Poured into 2 more of the smaller jars and some into our current soap dispenser, adding more water to bring it to consistency in the dispenser.


The stuff in the glass jars is still thick though very close to the consistency I want and I will thin it as we use it.


That is a LOT of soap – for almost NO work. Next time, I’ll stick with 16 ounces and I’ll probably fill up this same amount of jars with soap at the proper consistency.



I didn’t use any of the complicated process (one site says you can’t make liquid soap using cold-process soap-making – ummmm, this is my second time making liquid soap from scratch and the ONLY way I like to make soap is the cold-process version. I abhor heating it up and dealing with the curds – I do it only when absolutely necessary – and liquid soap-making from scratch works just fine in cold-process, thank you very much).



I don’t do any of the other more complicated steps, because frankly – this method WORKS – we are getting ourselves clean – it is simply liquified versions of my bar soaps – so why would I go to more trouble for a liquid than I do for the bars?


Lazy Mom syndrome again ;)


Or maybe I just want to spend time with my son….






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Nov 29 2013

The Church – and Labels

Published by under Musings

I recently came across a blog post about the use of sexual labels and why the Church won’t use them. Simple terminology – and it has stuck with me. Almost haunting me.

Why I am Not a Heterosexual

I wonder how much I have been encouraging the use of such labels, leading to the wrong impressions, then to the wrong beliefs, in both myself and others.

In short, we are each made in the image and likeness of God – THAT is our identity. To identify our core selves as anything else diminishes our value in others’ eyes to the value of mere parts.

Parts that are not just physical.

No, we don’t have to like everything about a person, but we do need to see them as the complete person they are: only in this way, can we overlook those things that we don’t like and truly embrace those things we do connect with.

And it goes all directions:

  • A person identifying as gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender – is asking everyone to identify that person for this attraction (it may or may not be a lifestyle for the particular person).
  • A person identifying as heterosexual – is asking to be identified by that attraction.
  • The person who identifies as LGBT – or heterosexual – or non-sexual — is looking to other people according to that attraction – according to the corresponding “parts” – in this case, usually physical; but their REAL needs are spiritual and emotional, which can only be fulfilled in a “whole” relationship.

Yet just because you are attracted to a particular gender,

does not mean you are attracted to ALL members of that gender.

Or that a deep meaningful (sexually chaste) relationship can’t be had with anyone of any gender.

Why are we defining everything by sex anyway?

Because sex is what brings about new life – it created each one of us – and will continue on the human race until the end of time. But we continue to miss the boat when we don’t see the WHOLE person, without the labels.


Now I understand how a husband and wife can live as brother and sister periodically or for long periods of time; how brothers and sisters can grow up together without these attractions to one another; how I can have such a spiritual connection with men who have (since our friendships started) become priests and not “want” them in “that way” that is natural between a man and a woman – they are truly brothers (and fathers) to me.

Because they love each other as WHOLE PERSONS – BODY AND SOUL – AS AN IMAGE OF GOD.

Not as mere parts.


Additional articles/links on the same topic:

Sidon Caesarea Philippi Tiberias Nain Sychar Bethany Ephraim Tyre Bethsaida Cana Caesarea Arimathea Jericho Jerusalem Capernaum Magdala Nazareth Emmaus Bethphage Bethlehem Mt. Carmel Mt. Tabor Mt. Gerizim Mt. Calvary Mt. of Beatitudes

Mt. Nebo Mt. of Olives Mts. of Judea Mts. of Galilee Desert of Judea Mts. of Lebanon Mts. of Samaria Mediterranean Sea Dead Sea Jordan River Sea of Galilee Galilee Samaria Judea Perea

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Nov 02 2013

Three Branches of Our Church

The Church has three branches, all waiting for the moment of Parousia:


  • Church Militant (us here on earth)
  • Church Suffering (those souls in Purgatory)
  • Church Triumphant (those souls who have already attained the Beatific Vision)
Each branch has particular roles and particular responsibilities.


A small group of girls discussed this very topic last month.


And this month (actually on November 1st and 2nd ;) ), the Church lives it out very consciously.


The funny thing is – we Catholics don’t fear cemeteries at night – we RELISH them!


Not much to see – it was DARK!!!


Candles were placed on the headstones or front of them; and each site was blessed with holy water. This work was done by the members of our parish – the Church Militant – the members of the Faithful here on earth. Following All Saints Mass (in thanksgiving for and honor of those who have attained the Beatific Vision and provided us examples here on earth), the cemetery can be visited in honor of All Souls (November 2nd – all those who have gone before us, including those we don’t know are in heaven yet or in purgatory (and we pray they are not elsewhere)).











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