Sunday, August 23, 2009

August Marian Feast Days

A week ago on August 15, the Church celebrated Mary's Assumption. It is one of the few days of obligation (meaning attending Mass is not optional) in the United States (one of seven, I believe). However, it fell on a Saturday this year and was therefore rolled into Sunday. I usually don't care for this being done, but it ended up working well for us this year since we were leaving the beach that Saturday. Seminarian Uncle Tim (as I like to refer to him here!) got up and went to 9:00 Mass at the nearby Catholic church, while Chris, my parents, and I packed up to leave and made sure we weren't forgetting anything. We also made sure the girls got some run-around time before being confined to the car for the long ride home.

So, we didn't really do anything to celebrate the Assumption that day... but a little later in the week, Caroline and I made the above Marian triptych. Making during the week in between the Feast of the Assumption and the Queenship of Mary turned out to be very appropriate, as it depicts both.

The first panel is a painting of Mary as the Immaculate Conception. I had also thought of finding a painting of St. Anne, since Mary was conceived in the womb of St. Anne... this painting we used is titled "The Immaculate Conception," even though it appears that Mary has long been conceived and born and grown up! I think the reason for the title is just that The Immaculate Conception is a formal title of Mary - it is what she is. Anyway, I could see either one being appropriate in the first panel.

The middle, largest panel shows the Assumption of Mary - when Mary was taken to heaven, body and soul. Of interest regarding this: I was reading about it, and wondering if Mary actually died before the Assumption or not. It appears that nobody knows, and so the Church just teaches that she came to the end of her earthly life. I read some of this interesting article at Catholic Culture... it is really long though!

The final panel depicts Mary being crowned Queen of Heaven. Caroline was speculating that the angels must have crowned her, but this painting shows God and Jesus crowning her. Caroline said, "How can they both be crowning her - they are both the same thing!" The Trinity is such a mystery, and even more so to children, I imagine! I just said that this is the way a person chose to paint the picture, to show that God is both the Father and the Son.

Anyway, what we did is this: I cut a shoebox to make the triptych. The middle panel is the bottom of the box, and the smaller panels are the sides. We painted it gold together and then cut and glued the pictures on (printed from online), and Caroline painted around the edges of the pictures. We could have also embellished it with some kind of doodads, like craft jewels, but we didn't have anything like that at the moment... but I like how it turned out, simple yet elegant. We have displayed it on our dining table all week. And here's where I found the idea - which Jessica posted a link to at Shower of Roses.

While visiting the Our Lady of La Leche shrine, we found this coloring book in the gift shop, and I couldn't pass it up at only $1.50. It contains at least one page for each letter of the alphabet, and Q happens to be for queen. So Caroline set to work coloring it when she found I'd left it out on the table for her on Friday. This coloring book is going to be lots of fun to use once we begin Kindergarten and First Grade work!

Here is her finished work - she switched to the aqua colored pencil when the regular blue needed to be sharpened... and then switched back after I'd sharpened it!

So, I wonder if it is a problem that my one year old likes to eat raw grains? Flour and oats in particular.

We made sugar cookies on Friday in preparation for making our crown cake for the Queenship of Mary the next day. The original recipe suggests buying pre-made sugar cookie dough and adding flour to make it stiff enough to roll out, but I found a roll-out sugar cookie recipe online, and I had an extra bag of white flour (since Kroger had their organic unbleached white flour on closeout last week!)... so, we used this recipe which turned out very yummy and not too sweet - almost shortbread-ish instead of sugar cookie-ish.

Caroline loves to roll out the dough with her own little wooden rolling pin. This toy has been a very worthwhile one for us!

While I cut out the cookies for the crown cake using this template, Caroline worked on some with regular cookie cutters (I doubt she'd be adept at cutting around a piece of paper using a knife - that was a challenge for me!). My mother-in-law sent me these alphabet cookie cutters for my birthday, which I had been wanting! We got to try them out today. Caroline cut out Q's for queen and M's for Mary. I figured we'd have extra cookie dough after I cut out the eleven cookies for the crown cake, so why not make the rest of the dough into relevant cookies?

These are some of Caroline's cookies.

The morning of the Queenship of Mary (Saturday), we decorated the cookies for the crown cake. The night before, I had baked a vanilla cake - from a mix. It was an organic cake mix. I know, I am such a food snob. I find so many fun food ideas for kids, but I often shy away because it would be too difficult to make them from scratch or make changes to make them into whole food recipes. So, I gave in partway on this one. I made the cookies from scratch, but not the cake, but I still bought an organic cake mix so that it wouldn't have weird ingredients in it. We made the frosting, too - just a regular powdered sugar/butter recipe. And the candies to decorate the cookies were all-natural jelly beans - no artificial colors. Yes, I really am a food snob. I promise, Caroline *has* eaten artificial colors and flavorings before, but it is not a habit I want to start in our home, so I try to stay away from it as much as possible while still having fun with baking. So, there's my confessions of a food snob!

Notice Cecilia appears in many of these photos - she just has to help us out and join Caroline in her coloring and cooking! She pushes the little chair over to the counter herself and climbs up. I wish she'd occupy herself with something else sometimes (like when she is trying to eat dough with raw eggs in it), but I am glad she likes to be involved, too! And when it is something that might be dangerous or extremely messy, I put her in a high chair in the kitchen with some play-doh [okay, homemade salt dough, back to my food-snobness again... but she will eat the stuff (she eats raw grains and sand too, remember?), and I'd rather she not eat colored play-doh!].

After decorating the cookies, we placed them around the sides of the frosted cake. How fun!! The original recipe said to mound the frosting up in the middle of the cake to make it appear like the fabric part of a royal crown, but I didn't have enough frosting and also didn't want to eat a two-inch mound of it on my slice of cake. The idea still comes across with skimpy frosting!

Here's a close-up of the finished product.

and an aerial view

We had quite a festive centerpiece collection for the Queenship of Mary: the triptych, the crown cake, a couple of Marian holy cards, and our Mary statue with a little crown which Caroline decorated. She wrote "Mary" on it - she asked me how to spell it after she'd written the M, and although I usually don't spell things for her (she has begun "writing all on her own, and it is interesting to see her invented spellings!), I spelled out "a-r-y" for her. She asked me how to make a Y, and I told her to just make it the way she wanted to. After trying to make a Y, she said, "I'll just write an E instead." Smart kid.

I loved that the cookies made it easy to cut cake slices! Caroline loved it! Notice that she is wearing blue today.. totally her choice, so she could "look like Mary."

For those who are not Catholic who read this blog, I realize that Mary as Queen might sound a little foreign. So here is a link to give a some background info. Also, at the time of Jesus, the Queen was not the wife to the King, but the mother of the King. So since Mary is the Mother of Jesus, and Jesus is the King... then Mary is given the title of Queen. If anyone has any questions though, feel free to leave them in the comments and I will try to respond - or maybe one of my Catholic blog readers will!

Mary, Queen of Heaven, Pray for us!


That Married Couple said...

So cute!!

Carrie said...

I love your cake, and I am becoming quite the food snob myself, so I appreciate your efforts toward making your projects a little more wholesome! :)

Truly that cake is so adorable! I love that you are teaching your traditions in your daily life. We are not Catholic, but it makes me realize that we could do more with "lifestyle" traditions in some of the festivals and things that we learn about...hmmmm...something to think on.

Jessica said...

Your cake turned out beautiful Erin!!!