Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna (Meatless Meal)

Fall flavors are upon us. Come on, you know you love it! I do love the bounty that the summer provides, but I also love the flavors of Fall. And with it comes a bounty of squash. Big ones, and little ones and all the sizes and colors of the rainbow.

We were recently gifted about 10 lbs of Butternut squash. I am a huge fan. But I also looked at it once I got it in the kitchen and wondered what the heck I was going to do with all of it! Fear not. It's a lot more versatile that I first imagined. Sure it is great simply roasted, but it is also wonderful to use once it is pureed. You can make pie, breads, muffins, ravioli, and in this case, lasagna.

When I first mentioned to my daughter that I was making lasagna with it, she asked if it was going to be sweet. Valid question. Who's heard of sweet lasagna? Maybe a dessert lasagna? But the flavor is actually very subtly sweet, and not overpowering at all.  It's very moist and filling. I only layered Mozzarella between the layers, but it would lend itself to a stronger flavored cheese as well. It would be especially good with a goat cheese, or a Gorgonzola.

I will definitely be making more of this to freeze and take out when we have after-school activities, or when I know I'll need something to pop into the oven in a hurry. It would also be a lovely meal to gift to a family!  

Recipe follows the picture.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna

Feeds 5-6 (maybe more if your family don't eat very large portions)

  • 2 small squash, peeled, cleaned, and chopped
  • 1 lb bag of frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
  • 2 cups of grated Mozzarella
  • 1 cup of Ricotta
  • Oven Ready Lasagna Noodles
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan, optional
Salt and Pepper your squash and douse with a little olive oil. Roast the butternut squash on a baking sheet for about 1 hour, or until fork tender. 

Spray a 9x9 inch baking dish with oil and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350.

When the squash has cooled slightly, add it to a blender with the ricotta, garlic and some salt to taste. Blend until smooth. Mix together with the chopped Spinach in a bowl. I didn't bother to drain the Spinach before mixing it together with the squash knowing that the pasta would absorb the moisture.

Start assembling the lasagna by placing about ½ cup of the squash and spinach filling in the bottom of the baking dish and spread it thinly to cover. Lay out a layer of the noodles, then ½ cup of the Mozzarella. 

Spread about a cup of the filling on top of the cheese using a flat spatula. Repeat until you have filled the pan. Then put a layer of cheese on the top. (If you have leftover filling, save it and freeze it for another time!)

Last, I sprinkled some Parmesan on top. 

Cover the lasagna with foil and place on a baking sheet, and into the oven for about an hour. During the last 15-20 minutes remove the foil if you like some color on your cheese. 

Let rest for ten minutes before serving.


St Januarius Printable

Today is the feast day of St Januarius, a bishop, who died as a martyr. Find attached a simple print out that can colored. I think we might use some bubble paint to color the vial of blood.

Some stories say that not only does his blood liquefy, but they say some times that it boils. Arts and crafts, and some church history all in one!

Grab your copy here.


Journaling Freebies #2

Time for some fun freebies for August, my friends!

Included are some beautiful quotes by the lovely Gemma Galgani, JPII, and Rose of Lima. This time I also included some little journaling cards in pretty pastel colors that have cactus pattern as the background. Some other sweet little goodies, too.

 Enjoy, and I hope that they are beneficial for your time spent in prayer!

Click here to download


Appreciating the Artist

There is a common misconception that anyone will be willing to work, donate or volunteer their services....for free or for exposure. Because, "I really appreciate your work and thought you could add to the atmosphere". Because they are a creative. Because, "I'm your friend". Because, "This will be awesome exposure!", or because the consumer thinks that they are doing you a favor because they see you struggling to put your work out there. I don't want to begin to talk about how much the price tag is for creatives to make their art. Anyone willing to take the time to appreciate those numbers is to be commended. 

Here is why I'm covering this subject right now. One thing I've been working on in the last few years has been appreciating myself, my efforts, and my successes. I've worked hard. I've struggled. I've overcome a lot of things. And yet, my focus has always been on just getting the next thing done. I've never taken the time to sit back and appreciate much of what I've done. Society, inner voices, some less than stellar people push this notion that no matter what you do, you'll never be enough. Those things make it easy to bypass feeling good about your work and your efforts. It's important to appreciate our successes, though. Even the little ones. How we see ourselves, how we value ourselves and our work radiates out from ourselves. So if I see value in my work and appreciate the value in my struggle whether it is in making or creating something, or whether it is a personal and private struggle, then likely others will see the value in it as well. How we present ourselves tells others how to value us and our work. If they choose to devalue or not appreciate the value in what I've done or who I am...well that is their choice. But I believe it is right and just to appreciate people and appreciate how they value themselves and their work. My time, my effort, my expenses for my work...others will not appreciate their value if I don't first set a standard for it. It's important to set a standard for how you want to be valued.

It is also equally important to appreciate the standards that others set for themselves and for the value of their work.

Teachers come to mind when I think of artists. Teachers are oftentimes expected to work for little and put in their own money to pay for school supplies, etc. The teachers that I'm friends with have spoken about the lack of appreciation for their work, and have shown frustration with how their work is viewed. Undervalued. Does the general public not understand all the extra time and effort and money that the teacher puts into the care of their students? Likewise...Is the artist/musician/photographer/graphic designer expected to put in the time, effort, and cost of supplies...only to be reimbursed for only part of what they've invested? Or no reimbursement at all? You would see it as incredibly rude to say to a teacher, or a musician, or any other number of creative people that you'd have them donate what costs them money... We all need to survive. Our arts need to be appreciated. 

Our time, our experience, our art has value.
What I'd like to propose is the Art of Appreciation. We need to see the value in the other and we need to appreciate it. Would we walk into the Louvre and proclaim that those artists didn't need to be paid? Or the Sistine Chapel? People who have spent their life invested in something greater than themselves deserve to be valued. Their value is higher than any dollar amount we can place on their work and yet....They only have value now, many years later because we decide that now it has value? Everyone needs to make a living and be appreciated. The Creative makes their living with what many consider something that isn't really able to be practically priced. To that I say, "What about the supplies? The time? The talent? Electricity?" Before we go and devalue someone and their art, we need to pause and appreciate what we are asking of this person. Let's practice lifting one another up in each of our chosen areas of expertise, valuing one anothers time and talents. 


Gratia Goodies-- Journaling Goodies

In the spirit of experimentation, I pulled some of my doodles and hand~lettering into Illustrator and PS to make some printable goodies for journaling and such. I'm totally new to this type of thing, so I'm still working out the kinks and learning my way. But I thought I'd share this set of cuties for you to enjoy in the mean time!

What I love about this sort of technique of sharing art is that I can basically doodle, paint or draw whatever I want and make it into something useful, practical and shareable! I can't wait to try it out with some of my color work, and some of the sayings that I've painting with watercolors and acrylics. Can't wait to bring some more of my ideas to life as well.

Enjoy guys!

Download your set here.

p.s. if you use them, tag me in your pictures so I can see what fun stuff you're doing! -->     @artisticceleste on IG


July Planner Printables

Welcome to my first set of Calendar tabs and printables! 
I'm so excited about this. It was so fun to make, I loved using my artwork for something useful, and I get to share it with you guys. All things that I love

This was something that I'd had on my mind for a while. While bible journaling and using my planner, I noticed that there are a lot of fellow Christians out there that are making fun calendar and printable stuff. But my frustration came in looking at the specifics of our Catholic faith. I love a lot of what I see out there but I wanted to add in more specifics to the Liturgical calendar, feast days, saints, and the like.

That said, it's my first go at this so I hope you'll be understanding of the imperfections. I am working specifically with Catholic Sistas Day Planner while I'm planning out my tabs and such, so they are specific to the calendar day-square size found within the planner. In the future I'd like to make it more adaptable to other planners to make it work for more people. I have a list of ideas that I'm working on for next months tabs, some small tweaks and size changes. Over time I think that they'll get better and better. And I'm hoping for your input, so bring me your ideas guys and leave me some comments with what you think would be fun to add in for the future! 

Grabs your copies for July at the links below! 


Month of the Most Precious Blood

Download your free desktop and phone background for July, the month of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. 


Nudgings from the Divine

Many months of pondering, and praying, and after many years of feeling nudged to do something have lead up to a moment...The moment that I finally give in and say "Yes" to the nudge that has been at me for years to do something. I've always used my talents. I've used them in the moments and in the ways that seemed to fit at the time. I've always been pretty generic about it though, but the nudge to use my talent in some faith-inspired way has continued on for years now. The struggle to actually do it...that is where I got caught up in this thing.

What is that thing? Judgement. Being judged. Being different. Doing something that is so specific that maybe no one will even want it, and then...then what? There has been fear. Fears that no one will care what I'm doing, and it'll all tank.

I had to get to this point in my faith journey where it was me saying to myself, "You have to do something one way or another. You can't live this fractured existence."

So I'm going to do something about it, friends. I'm going to embrace the nudging, which I can only guess is the Holy Spirit, to do what I feel I'm being called to. I know I'm called to create. And now I'm going to create for Him. There will be a hint of faith-inspiration, likely, in everything that you see from here on out. Because I can't get away from it. It inspires me. My hope is that, my friends who are of no faith, or a different faith will still be able to find some beauty and value in what I do. I hope you'll find use for what ever I may share to further your own journey.



Relaxing into Summer

The Summer arrived with a flourish! As in, the kids all dramatically dumped their backpacks inside the front door and I ordered a pizza, sat myself in a chair and blew my bangs out of my face. We'd survived, on so many levels, one heck of an amazing school year. It never ceases to amaze me how much you can really handle once you have a chance to sit back for a second and look at things from a different perspective.

Several things came into play during these last few months of school that had me on edge quite a bit. For example, we were facing having to move as our landlord has been planning to sell and move to Hawaii. That set my mind into a tail-spin of sorts. The market here locally is a nightmare. We faced both the rental and buyers markets with hope that the perfect place would come along if we just crossed our fingers and toes, put the word out and hoped for the best. No such luck in that department. But God works in mysterious ways and all we had to do was be patient. (Gosh was that hard.) Though our house is half packed in the expectation of having to leave, God put a little twist in to things and we're now sitting in the half packed house that is now our own! Talk about an unexpected turn of events. You should have seen the kids faces when I told them that unfortunately things were not going to change much, that they'd still have to share a room and put up with tight quarters (they really don't mind so much), because we don't ever have to move from here if we don't want to. The shouts of joy and relief at not having to change schools and leave friends was worth all the anxiety and stress that I've been trying to hide from them these last months.

Breath in, breath out. Relax. Hang the curtains. I can decide where I want things to be with permanence. It's a lovely feeling of being grounded. And now it opens a new door for me to settle into some things that have been ruminating in my mind for months.

I'm glad to be here.


Feeling Vulnerable, 3 Years Later

Three years ago I wrote about an experience that I had one day when my youngest daughter was but a wee babe. As mommy to a new baby, and a new baby diagnosed with Down syndrome, I was thrust into a new world that I previously hadn't known. Aside from dealing with getting to know a new baby, any new mom will tell you it can be a stressful time postpartum. It's been a wonderful world, but one that you aren't given a road map for so it took some time for me to adjust and find my footing a bit. I was learning about a new person, learning about what Down syndrome was and how it affected her as an individual, and what this meant for me as her mom.

Looking back I struggled in a way that was a bit different from other parents, perhaps, in that I wasn't heartbroken or distraught over her diagnoses. I loved her. She was adorable, and squishy, and this tiny little thing that fit in the crook of my arm. I loved her with a passion, but was unsure how to express that in a way that other people could understand because when they looked at her they saw Down syndrome first. For me, I saw "baby" first, and Down syndrome was just like a complimentary Sundae after dinner. A perk. I didn't have the vocabulary at the time to express it. I had to grow into this new person that I am and find my voice for her. And in those early days, my way of coping was avoidance of public for a bit until I was comfortable in this new space and more confidant.

So here we are three years later, and I can tell you with confidence that I'd have some different responses to how people react to my daughter when they express anything other than delight in her. She is absolute sunshine. Most of the time. We are experiencing the typical terrible-two's/three-nager stage, so some of her behavior is pretty typical for her age. Even more delightful! I crack up, inside, every time she throws herself on the floor for a tantrum.

Most of the time people are delighted by her. She says hi to everyone. She laughs heartily.  Sometimes at church, she'll escape me and go running up the middle aisle in the middle of a packed house. At first I was a little embarrassed that she was causing a ruckus. But as time has gone by, I've let go of that expectation for adhering to typical rules. She's small for her age, so more often than not it is assumed that she is about half her age, rather than 3 yrs old. No one seems to mind, especially when they hear her belly laugh as I chase her down, as she yells "Hi!" and waves with all her might to the priest in the middle of his homily. I might get some hate over the fact that I actually have really enjoyed the extended baby-dom. Isn't it what we mom's lament over, that baby's don't keep? We've been blessed with an extension of it to some degree, and it's been nothing but lovely. Don't get me wrong, I love to see her accomplish new things and to hear her speech develop. But the extended length of time that it's taken has been nothing but delightful, and makes the goals reached that much more sweet to celebrate.

 Some of the struggle for me now comes not from strangers that I may encounter for a few moments, but when I go through needing to discuss the details of my children with other people, like behavioral issues, or needs they might have that typical children may not have. This can be a little harder than the chance encounters. I like to be respectful, but there are those times when it's easiest to dismiss a chance encounter. There is a sort of internal struggle that goes on with deeper conversation, say like with medical professionals that you would expect to know more. On the one hand, we need for the supports to be in place to help them succeed and so we have to talk about the struggles. And on the other hand this can be so incredibly difficult because we also want to share how wonderful and what a blessing our child is to our family and community at large. We need the struggles acknowledged but not to be the focal point of who our children are. I admit that the struggle is more pronounced at times because of the societal stigmas and misunderstandings that still abound from outdated information. But what I've learned from that perspective of a society still catching up is much like what I had to learn as a new parent.
  • Education and respect are essential. 
  • Sensitivity is greatly appreciated.
  • Acknowledging your own ignorance without being offended and being open to new information is good. It doesn't mean you are dumb because you don't know something. It's called being humble. 
  • Educating with love and respect is my goal. I don't want to make anyone feel dumb with the manner in which I share information as a parent.

There are definitely still times when I struggle because someone said something insensitive out of ignorance, but I don't take it so much as a personal affront to myself or my daughter. If anything, it says something about the other person.

Much love friends.


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