the hand of God in weather

It was surprising to see this headline when I went to weather.com today to check out the forecast. They had a short article on how time and time again people see the hand of God in the weather, and storm survivors say that someone was watching over and protecting them.

Here are a few of the examples they gave:

During a heavy thunderstorm in February 2013, Agence France Presse photographer, Filippo Monteforte, was trying to stay dry in St. Peter's Square, when a bolt of lighting came down and hit the Vatican. The photo became an exclamation point on an already historic, unexpected day. Earlier that morning, Pope Benedict XVI announced he'd be stepping down from his duties for health reasons, marking the first time in about 600 years a pope had resigned.

Superstorm Sandy inflicted vicious winds, storm surge and historic flooding to parts of eastern New York and New Jersey in late October 2012.  Breezy Point, Queens, NY was one of the areas that absorbed the worst of the storm. To make matters worse, flooding and storm debris blocked entry into parts of the city, and firefighters couldn't stop a large fire that left 100 homes damaged and destroyed.But standing high among the ashes in Breezy Point remains a statue of the Virgin Mary. Once a centerpiece in a family garden, the statue now acts as a beacon of hope for survivors. Pilgrims leave flowers and often stop to pray at her feet.

An EF-5 tornado steamrolled Joplin, Missouri on Sunday, May 22, 2011. About 30% of Joplin's buildings weredamaged or destroyed, and St. Mary's Catholic Church stood directly in the storm's path. The storm decimated St. Mary's church, parish center, rectory and the elementary school, but it couldn't budge the tall steel cross from its spot at the top of the church. The church's pastor was in the rectory when the storm hit, and he survived by taking cover in the bathtub.

:type travel tuesday: {sidney street, cambridge, uk}


happy palm sunday

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis!

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest!



a river runs through it: la seine

Ahhh... Paris Je t'aime.

The River Seine and La Cathedrale Notre-Dame,
Paris, France.


:type travel tuesday: {reims cathedral, marc chagall stained glass}

Deo optimo maximo, often abbreviated D.O.M.
"To God, most good, most great."

Cathedral Notre-Dame de Reims,
Reims, France

Notre-Dame of Reims was the site of the coronation of French kings. It was the centre of an important "cathedral complex" and the representation of Heavenly Jerusalem for the people of the Middle Ages. It was also the symbolic centre of the Archbishop's power, as Primate over the bishops of several dioceses in Northern France. Erected between 1211 and 1516, in accordance with an architectural program of immense artistic richness, the Cathedral of Reims survives as one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic art.

Marc Chagall designed the beautiful stained glass windows in the axis of the apse, installed in 1974.

Chagall began by immersing himself in the atmosphere of the edifice and its medieval windows, from which he asked Charles Marq to reproduce the colours. He then commenced work by gluing pieces of cloth on preliminary models, followed by working with gouache on larger and larger models. The ensemble of these works, six lancet and three small rose windows, is ten metres high and covers an area of about 75m².

The central window evokes the history of Abraham and the last moments of the Earthly life of Christ (the Passion and the Resurrection), that is, the foundations of the Old and New Testaments: the sacrifice of Abraham heralding that of Christ. The rose window represents The Holy Spirit.

The window on the left expresses the prophesy of the Old Testament. It depicts the Tree of Jesse, linked to the genealogy of the Virgin, under whose patronage the Cathedral is placed. From the side of Jesse springs the branch giving birth to the kings of Judah, of which Chagall portrayed only Saul, David and Salomon.

The rose window represents a certain number of prophets announcing the coming of the Messiah. In this realisation, Marc Chagall succeeds in combining the modernity of drawing and of composition, with the hues of medieval stained glass, from which he borrowed the ancient blues in order to preserve the overall harmony of colours.

(from the Cathedral's website)


flourless chocolate cake with ganache

Brandon found and altered this flourless chocolate cake recipe after my birthday dinner this year, when we had such a delicious version at a french restaurant in Austin. It's SO easy to make, that it's crazy.

For the Feast of Aquinas, I made two of the normally thin cakes, and put chocolate ganache in between them, then covered them both in ganache as well. YUM and RICH. SOOOO rich. You really have to be prepared for a piece of this stuff.

Classic Flourless Chocolate Cake
4-oz dark or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped 1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder  (we use less. more like 1/3 cup) 
(pref. dutch process)

Preheat oven to 375F. Line an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper and lightly grease.
In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt together chocolate and butter, stirring with a fork until very smooth.
Pour warm chocolate mixture into a medium mixing bowl with sugar. Whisk to combine. Beat in eggs one at a time, waiting until each has been fully incorporated to add the next, then mix in vanilla extract. Sift cocoa powder into the bowl and whisk until well-combined.
Pour into prepared cake pan.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Allow cake to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert onto a serving platter. Dust with cocoa powder, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container.
page2image10016 page2image10176 page2image10336
Serves 8-10 

(originally from Gourmet magazine, Nov. ’97) 

I used THIS ganache recipe. 


feast of st. thomas aquinas

In celebration of the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas on the anniversary of his "birth into glory" or as Brandon prefers to call it, his "death," (on March 7, 739 years ago) we were invited to a feast in his honor.

Stained glass window depicting St. Thomas Aquinas at Brooks College, Baylor.

This humorous menu was created by some fellow Thomists at Notre Dame, with each food item pertaining to some aspect of St. Thomas' life. (Images of each food item are below the menu)

FEAST of St. Thomas

Prima Pars
Ecce Bruschetta Angelorum
A celestial start for the feast of us wayfarers;
but please don’t feed it to the dogs.

Hummus Contra Averroistas
St. Thomas knew that the Arabs got their Aristotle wrong,
but he wouldn’t deny that they got their chickpeas right.

Roccasecca Zucchini Pokers
Sharp and zesty, these tasty whore d’oeuvres
also serve to ward off unwanted temptresses.

Secunda Pars
Brother Reginald’s Rice
While they certainly may seem as straw compared to what St. Thomas has seen,
these humble grains provide an indispensable foundation for our meal.

Dumb Ox Loin
Fork-tender pork tenderloin with resounding flavor,
whose bellowing will be heard throughout the whole world.

Tertia Pars
Scholastic Strawberry Trifle
A cornucopia of flavors distinguished in order to be united.

Circulatio Chocolate Cake 
A Neo-Platonic touch for the reditus of our meal.


brandon's birthday visitors

...and we're still not done talking about celebrating Brandon's birthday! Lastly and certainly most importantly Brandon's mom Caryn, uncle Calvin, and grandparents Carrol and Carolyn came to visit for his birthday!

We had suuuuch a fun time with them, showing them around Baylor, Waco and just getting to spend time together! Luckily we were able to share some beautiful Texas winter weather with them with temps between the mid-60s and 70 degrees.

We ate tons of delicious food.

The ladies went shopping...a few times.

We went to a Baylor Lady Bears' Basketball game. It was really fun to see Brittany Griner play, and waste Texas, of course!

We had a picnic by the river.

We toured Baylor's campus.

They got stranded here an extra day due to crazy winds in Waco. We got to the Waco airport only to find out their flight had been canceled. It was nice to be awarded some extra time together, but it was stressful for them! The next day they flew to Dallas, and on to Des Moines. They were in the air 20 minutes from Des Moines when they had to turn and go BACK to Dallas because of the blizzards back home! They ended up having to stay overnight in the airport. Pretty much all their flights were delayed during the process and after flying to Detroit they finally made it back to Des Moines by Wednesday evening clocking an extra two days of travel time. I hope it was a memorable bonding experience for them as a nuclear family, especially since they got to experience many of the classic "movie-style" travel horrors all in one trip (they also had to RUN through the airport to catch a flight, mind you).

Thank you so much for visiting! Come back soon, please.
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