2021 Goals · Emily (Me) · Fridge or Pantry · Good Cheap Eats · Homemaking · Pantry Challenge · Recipes · Repurposed Food (Leftovers)

Join Me For Pantry Challenge 2021

One of the ways I’m kicking off 2021 is to participate in the Pantry Challenge with Jessica at Good Cheap Eats. The dates are January 1-31! I’ve been doing this for at least a decade. I love her blog because I get her logic. She helps me see what I am doing right, wrong, and what I can do better. The Pantry Challenge is a fantastic season that my family looks forward to twice a year.

I would love to invite you to go to her blog, read about it, and subscribe. When you subscribe, Jessica will send you the tools you need to participate. It’s been different for us here in Italy. My pantry and fridges/freezers are full because of extra holiday purchases, and we have set some attainable goals for this Pantry Challenge!

  1. We will stick to our meal plan.
  2. We will only grocery shop every 2 weeks…
    • When we do, will will only buy dairy, produce, paper/personal items.
  3. If we don’t have it, we will make it! That happened today!
  4. We will repurpose food and use up our frozen foods.
  5. With the exception of Marque’s birthday, we will not eat out…

All of the things on my list will either save us time or money. In the states, there are coupons, and sales fliers, etc. here in Italy, not so much. We did find a store called AdHoc, which is similar to Costco. That has helped with meat costs, etc.

Here’s a pic of my pantry:

Beside my fridge (to the left of this pantry), I have a dry erase calendar where I place my meal plan, and a dry erase empty square where I write my grocery list. During the Pantry Challenge, we take stock of the meats and dry items we have… and we use our imaginations to make it all last at least a month, sometimes longer.

January 1st we had our traditional New Years Meal. Pork roast (because a proper ham is not common here), black eyed peas, greens/cabbage. Leftovers today, the 2nd, and tomorrow (the 3rd) we will have shrimp tacos.

Earlier, I said we needed something we didn’t have, so we made it. So here’s the story. We love the Pioneer Woman’s Shrimp Tacos, and they call for Mexican Tomato Sauce. Usually we use El Pato, but we ran out and they don’t sell it here. So we made it from this recipe – Mexican Tomato Sauce.

One of the things I have learned from Jessica @GoodCheapEats is that you can make just about everything from scratch… and it’s such a benefit. I’ll let you know how the shrimp tacos turn out.

We’re excited! Come play along… get organized, use what you have…and save money! AND let us know how you do!

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the Bible In a Year with Father Mike Schmitz. Pray for me. I’d really love to read the Bible in a year!

Love, hugs & Blessings,

Catholic · Catholic Faith · Counting Blessings · Davis Family · Italy · Lent · Uncategorized

Walk With Me… I'm In the Desert…


Dear Ones,

Can I ask you a question? And it’s a DOOZY… How’s your Lent going? With all this Coronavirus stuff and living in Italy, I can tell you – It’s not the best… OR IS IT?

When I started this post, my husband was laying asleep recovering from colon surgery (I’ll get to that). My child is knee-deep in virtual school – which he’s stressed about, but we’re both thankful we homeschooled before, so he’s ok. Sure, he misses his friends and being able to leave our Parco (neighborhood), but he’s doing ok.

February 25th, Marque went in for routine colon surgery to remove a bad area of his colon. We were told it was precancerous, but because there was a visiting surgeon with a colorectal specialty, we could do it sooner rather than later and she’d help out. The surgery was supposed to last three hours and lasted twelve. One of THE absolute longest days ever. People sat with me, comforted me, my child was there. And finally after 10pm, we headed home. 

On the first day of Lent, I walked into the hospital room to my husband writhing in pain. It was no one’s fault. The way they laid him during surgery was slanted, and arms pinned by his side, and his shoulders were so pain filled he could not even lift his arms. The visiting Priest (ours is in California having serious surgery near his family) brought us prayer, blessings and Jesus in the Eucharist. Lent in a Day, y’all. Ash Wednesday. We got our Ashes too. Sigh

My husband was in the hospital for 23 days. I’ll spare you the details on the ups and downs, but there were some very scary moments/days where the desert FEAR causes was very real. As the days turned into weeks, the coronavirus got serious. A friend of ours, a surgical tech, warned me and made sure I understood late one evening that I would need supplies to last a month and that when I took Marque home, I should not venture out so I wouldn’t catch it. I remember being irritated because no one thought it was very serious – and then all of a sudden, Italy was shut down.  

If you can imagine, here in Italy, we have to carry legal paperwork (in Italian) letting whomever might stop us know WHY we are leaving the house. We can leave for necessity, for medical needs, proven work requirements, and for returning home. Only grocery, pharmacy, a few hardware stores, and maybe a few other places are open. When the Italians decree came out that their people could no longer visit family in hospital, I asked permission to see my husband daily. AND I had to be home by curfew (6pm).

  • What if I told you that my husband did have cancer but it’s all gone? It never spread beyond his colon, not in his blood stream, not in his lymph. 
  • What if I told you that yesterday, on Gaudete Sunday, as frail as he has been whilst healing (he lost nearly 50 lbs and is weak for now), he taught our son to grill chicken and shrimp and we watched a family movie? 
  • What if I told you that this scary time has brought us closer, and helped us all appreciate one another more?

Before Marque had surgery a Priest told us we’d had our Lent laid out for us, he didn’t think we needed to give up anything else. And you know what, he was so right. The list of people I need to thank is long. I gave up sleep, my ego, and so much this Lent.  We have all given up Christ in the Eucharist, and aren’t even sure if there will be Easter Mass. In my 56 years, I’ve never seen or experienced ANYTHING like it. 

There were moments that I really didn’t even know if my husband would live. The fear in the desert is real. But I rejoice for this walk in the desert and the ability to be a light for others, and let others do for our little family.  

I look forward to the day when quarantine is over and I can be in front of Jesus again. Until them I will adore him at home, with my little family, in our sweet desert.

Praying for you all.
Air Hugs (social distance mandate).
Love and blessings,



Marian Peg Swap – My Peg Dolls

Happy Wednesday All!

A few months ago, I found a FaceBook page called Catholic Peg Swaps. If you don’t know what a Peg Doll is, you really should Google it, or check out Etsy or Pinterest. So much information on how to paint them out there (yes, I will post a couple links).  Here are a few that are sitting on the shelf in our classroom/office/craft room:

Pegs from a swap in 2014. So much fun!

I first came across wooden peg Saints when I was looking for unique First holy Communion gifts for my son. I found them on Etsy at Saint Anne’s Studio. They were $26 back then, and now they are $48. For most of us, it’s way less expensive to paint them ourselves and because of that – swaps were born.

How do people use them? For me, they sit on my shelf at home. But if I had littles, I’d imagine they would play with them.  One of the ladies in the Catholic Peg Swap group posted this picture. She puts the Saint of the Day in this, and I love this idea – What a great way to learn about and celebrate our beautiful Saints.

Lacy @ Catholic Icing, has created printable skins for creating Saint Peg Dolls – HERE. She has also written a great post titled Playing with Saint Peg Dolls – What to Do, How to Store, and More.
Monica @ Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families has several blog posts about Painting and Playing With Saint Peg Dolls – HERE

Anyway – I am especially devoted to Our Blessed Mother. As many of you know, I did not have a mother in the home for most of my life, and I adore Her because She is My Mother. Thank you Lord! Well, I found a Marian Peg Swap. In this swap, I painted two pegs. Our Lady of Loreto and Our Lady of Rosa Mystica (click on the names to find links about them). Here are my pegs:

Our Lady of Loreto:


In the above picture, I painted all the pegs a buttermilk yellow color, and the heads a chocolate brown. Then, I created a template from acetate, and cut it out with a cutter blade. I traced this onto each doll. I then drew a line around her and painted on her veil, and the gold accents are a paint pen. This got tricky a couple times and the paint went everywhere, but luckily mostly came off with water and was re-touchable.

My sweet husband painted the crowns gold with spray paint. AND we had to spray seal this doll, then modpodge her because when we used Minwax Poly Sealant, the gold ran EVERYWHERE! I was so thankful we only tried it with a baby Jesus and it that we had extra pegs. Sigh. What a mess.

The below picture is how she turned out (except that I ran out of time and the dolls for the swap have a solid blue veil).

Our Lady Rosa Mystica:
The below collage is the progression of Our Lady Rosa Mystica.  First I painted one doll, and then I used her to paint the others from. You can see the small colorful tools in the lower left picture, those have different size balls on the ends and they are great for detailing these pegs. Essential for the Roses and The Rosary!
Since I mentioned it, I bought mine on eBay, but you can buy a nail painting kit many places. Here is the kit I have: Nail Painting Kit
This is Our lady in her final form:

I had so much fun painting them! I mean, sure I was sick and ended up doing them all in less than a week. But in the end, they are done and I can not wait to receive all 40 (plus baby Jesus) back so that I can add to my Peg Shelf!

I hope you have enjoyed this post.
Please search on YouTube and Google for peg painting and join us at the Catholic Peg Doll Swap page!

Hugs & Blessings,