Italian Sausage and White Bean Soup

As soon as we feel the first cool breeze in fall, I dig out my collection of soup recipes.  There is something so cozy about sitting around the dinner table with a steamy bowl of soup and a hot piece of crusty bread that is fresh from the oven.  This Italian Sausage and White Bean Soup recipe is the most requested recipe from our kitchen.  It is hearty, satisfying, and packed with flavor.  I hope it becomes a staple in your kitchen too!

Italian Sausage and White Bean Soup
8 servings

Garlic- 6 cloves, minced
Onions- 2, chopped
Celery- 6-8 stalks, chopped
Mushrooms- 2 8 oz packages, sliced
Kale- 6-10 leaves, chopped (or a few handfuls of the pre-chopped kale)
Diced Tomatoes- 28 oz can
Great Northern Beans- 2 14oz cans, drained and rinsed
Italian Sausage- 1 lb
Chicken Stock- 6 cups
Bay Leaves- 2
Dried Oregano- 1 tsp

1.  Add a splash of EVOO to a pot and brown the Italian sausage.  

2. While the sausage is browning, chop the onions, celery, and mushrooms.  Add the veggies, garlic, and the can of diced tomatoes to the soup pot.  Cook for 3ish minutes until the onions become translucent.  

3.  Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, and oregano and bring to a boil.  Boil for 10ish minutes until the celery is tender.  Toss in the kale leaves and boil for just a minute or two until they become slightly wilted.  Turn the heat off and stir in the drained and rinsed beans.  Salt and pepper to taste.

4.  Enjoy!

What is your favorite soup recipe?  Please share in the comments!  We are always hoping to add to our soup collection! 

How to Make a Dried Orange Garland

We love to savor the quiet days of December.  We  put on some music, make cocoa, and spend the afternoons creating handmade ornaments to decorate our home.  One of our favorite Chirstmas DIY projects is to make dried orange garlands.  We string the oranges together and hang over doorways and windows.  We also tie strings to individual dried orange slices to use as ornaments on our tree.   The dried oranges add a pop of color and have a light citrus scent that makes our home smell like the Holidays! 

How to Make a Dried Orange Garland

1. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F. 

2.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. 

3.  Using a serrated knife, slice 4-5 Naval oranges so the slices are 1/4th to 1/8th of an inch thick.

4.  Lay the orange slices in a single layer on the cookie sheet.  Pat each orange slice with a paper towel to remove excess moisture and to speed up the drying process.  

5.  Bake for 4 hours or until the oranges are turning slightly brown and appear to be dry.  (I flip mine over after 2 hours)

6.  Allow the oranges to cool.  Use a fishing line and a needle to string the oranges together.  I like to string the oranges through the flesh part of the fruit, not the rind.  Oranges can be placed right next to each other or with a space in-between.  It's totally up to you!  

We love to string fresh cranberries on another garland so we can weave the oranges and cranberries together.  The orange and red combo adds such a pop of color to our Christmas tree!  

Do you make homemade garlands?  What do you add to yours?

The O Antiphons

"For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests.  They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:5
Scripture reveals so much to us about the nature of Our Savior.  Sometimes I like to sit with the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus and just skim the titles until one strikes me and I stop and let it speak to my heart.  Who is this man?  And if this is who He is, then who am I?  If He is the God-Hero, what do I need to be saved from?  If He is the Father-Forever, in what areas of my life do I need a consistent father figure?

Our Church, in its wisdom, has given us a beautiful tradition of meditating on the Names of Jesus through the recitation of the  O Antiphons on the few days leading up to Christmas.  Sometimes it is difficult for us to put into words the anticipation and hope we are feeling.  The ancient prophets of Israel give us the language we need in the O Antiphons. The promises of the prophets are rich and reveal the nature of Jesus Christ to us.

With each O Antiphon, we meditate upon seven significant titles of the Messiah.  We recall his faithfulness to the ancient people.  The titles attributed to Jesus are: Wisdom, Ruler of the House of Israel (Adonai), Root of Jesse, Key of David, Radiant Dawn, King of the Gentiles, and Emmanuel.  

If you take the first letter of each title beginning with the last one, and read them from last-to-first, it spells Ero Cras in Latin, which means, “Tomorrow I will be there.”
The O Antiphons are prayed from December 17-December 23.   You will recognize them as verses to the song, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” 

Sit with each title of Jesus and see who He is to you.  What does this title say about His character?  Who is this man who has set us free?  You might find yourself pondering and having a fruitful prayer time with just the title.  (Example: O Key of David   What does it mean that He is a key?  What do keys do?  What is He unlocking? What do I need Him to unlock?) 

Once you have pondered the title, read the verse below it and see which words strike you.  How are these words a message of hope for you?  The additional Scripture passages are optional and can bring more insight about the titles of Jesus.
December 17: O Wisdom
O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love; come to teach us the path of knowledge.
Isaiah 11:2-4
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Wisdom 7:28
December 18: O House of Israel
O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai; come to rescue us with your mighty power!
Exodus 3:1-22
Exodus 6:6
Isaiah 33:22
December 19: O Root of Jesse
O Root of Jesse’s stem, sign of God’s love for all his people: come to save us without delay!
Revelation 5:1-5
Isaiah 11:1-10
Romans 15:12
December 20: O Key of David
O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness!
Isaiah 22:22-25
Isaiah 42:6-7
Matthew 4:16
Psalms 107:10, 14
December 21: O Radiant Dawn
O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.
Isaiah 9:1
Habakkuk 3:3-4
Luke 1:78-79
Matthew 4:16
December 22: O King of All Nations
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!
Psalms 22:28-32
Ephesians 2:19-22
Isaiah 9:5-6
Jeremiah 10:7
Acts 4:11
December 23: O Emmanuel
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!
Isaiah 7:14
Isaiah 33:22
Matthew 1:23
Romans 8:31

December 24: "Tomorrow I will be there"

My prayer for you is that the Prince of Peace reveals Himself to you and fills you with joy and hope over the next few days. 

If you'd like to learn more about Biblical History and the significance of these titles, check out this podcast series by Sonja Corbitt. 

Homemade Beeswax Candles

There is a hush in the air every time we strike a match.  When the little flame appears,  the mood shifts and tiny bodies start to quiet down. Our school day always begins with a candle and a prayer.  Our evenings often end with a candle and a prayer.  When there is a flame, my people know it is time to settle in and soak up the important message.  

Unfortunately candles often come with a price.  Synthetic fragrances cause hormone disruption and lead to respiratory issues.  Wicks are often filled with lead and other carcinogens. 

Homemade beeswax candles offer light and ambiance without additives.  Beeswax has a subtle honey scent that is pleasant for any room in the house.  Adding spices can shift the aroma and add a pop of color.

5 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
5 tsp ground cloves (optional)
Hot glue gun/glue
Double boiler or glass jar for melting

Use the hot glue gun to glue the wicks to the bottom of the jars.  (A popsicle stick or plastic spoon can be helpful to move it into place).

Melt the beeswax in your double boiler on the stove or in a large glass jar in the microwave.  (Beeswax is very hard to remove, so use a glass jar you aren't attached to).  If microwaving, microwave for one minute at a time and take out to stir with a popsicle stick.  Repeat until beeswax is a liquid.

Once the beeswax is liquid, stir in the coconut oil and spices if you plan to use them.  Lay down parchment paper or newspaper over your workspace.  I got beeswax on my countertop and it is very difficult to remove! Place the jars on top of the parchment paper.

Pour the liquid beeswax mixture into the jars.  Immediately after pouring, wipe down your double boiler/glass jar with a paper towel to remove the remaining beeswax.  If it hardens before you can remove it, reheat your container until the beeswax becomes liquid again and immediately wipe it out.  Once it hardens, it is very difficult to clean.

Position the wicks in the candles so they will harden in the middle. Allow the wax to cool completely before you move the jars.  Trim the wicks to your desired height.  

The fist time you light your candle, plan to keep it lit for at least 2-3 hours so the entire surface can melt to prevent tunneling.

A fun alternative is to roll beeswax sheets to make taper candles!  My kiddos loved doing this!  We used these kits and we have this taper candle holder in the middle of our kitchen table.

Have you made homemade beeswax candles?  Do you have any tips or tricks?

Homemade Lip Balm

Looking for the perfect lip balm recipe?  You are in the right place.  This version is super hydrating without being sticky.  It can be poured into lip balm tins or chapstick containers.  

(Makes 10 tubes)
1 1/2 Tbsp Beeswax pellets
12 drops of Essential Oils

Melt the beeswax in a double boiler. Add the coconut oil, shea butter, and sweet almond oil and stir until melted. Remove from heat and add essential oils. Pour into lip balm containers or chapstick containers and let it set for 24 hours. 

*Our favorite oils to add are PeppermintCinnamon Bark + Orange, or Lavender.

**If you want a subtle tint, stir in some of your Savvy Minerals blush.

***If you have an almond allergy, feel free to use 3Tbsp of coconut oil and omit the sweet almond oil. 

What is your favorite lip balm flavor?
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