Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Welcome New Blogger!

Michele R. is a bride of 15 years to the incredible man she once swore she’d convert to her Southern Baptist faith. A Catholic convert of 16 years, she is a homeschooling mother of a girl-boy-girl-boy foursome, ages 11 to 3 and is expecting the family's "tiebreaker" in May 2012. In her pre-mama days she was a public school art teacher for elementary and middle grades, and currently fills her need to create by living vicariously through crafting blogs.

Michele was blessed to be the “craft mama” for her local Little Flowers Girls’ Club for 3 years. While taking a craft-leader sabbatical, she still scours the internet seeking crafts to enhance this beautiful program.

Please visit her blog:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Craft Plans and Ideas for Wreath IV

I am getting ready to host our first meeting for the year and have been busy creating our plans for the year.   Here are the links to all the crafts that I have either found or created for my Little Flowers Girls' Club to make as we work our way through Wreath IV: 

Starlight Cookies
*We will adapt this idea from over at Catholic Cuisine for our 4th meeting, for the gift of "Counsel" (following recipes!).  I purchased a light blue cloud fabric for the jars, tying in the color/jewel of "aquamarine" and the symbol of "clouds."

Woven Crosses and/or Marian Banner - Fluer de Lys
*These craft kits will be ordered from Illuminated Ink!  Either one of these would work perfectly for St. Joan of Arc and the Gift of Fortitude.

Spiritual Bouquets and/or Marian May Baskets
*I love these little printable cards for Spiritual Bouquets and these Marian May Baskets! The girls will make the Spiritual Bouquets to give to their own Fathers and our local priests, as suggested in one of the Member's Guide assignments for this last meeting.

St. Therese, the Little Flower, Pray for us!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Flowers of Wreath III Cupcakes

First of all, I would like to thank Joan and Rachel for inviting me to be a contributor here at the Little Flowers Girls' Club blog!   For the past three years I have been leading a Little Flowers Girls' Club for my girls and some of their friends.  It has been such a rewarding experience and my girls have absolutley loved being Little Flowers.

In addition to the suggestions in the Leader's Manuals, I started creating a series of Notebook Pages to go along with each virtue/saint, and also have really enjoyed coming up with snacks (or "Catholic Cuisine!") that  tied in the Saint and/or Flower for each meeting.

This past year, for Wreath III, I ended up sticking with a flower theme, and was able to come up with a cupcake for each of the 9 meetings.   Sometimes I would have all the supplies ready for the girls to decorate their own cupcakes (which the girls loved) and other times I had the cupcakes pre-decorated.  I've posted about them in my individual posts about each meeting, but I thought I would consolidate them all into one post as well, to share with you all here.  Now to finish up my plans for Wreath IV before our first meeting later this month!

Meeting One :: Mary & Martha,  Eutrapelia, Dandelion

Dandelion Cupcakes
Our Complete Meeting for Eutrapelia

Pumpkin Cupcakes topped with Cream Cheese Frosting
 and decorated as Common Dandelions
Served with "Dandelion Yellow" Punch

Meeting Two :: Ruth & Naomi, Friendliness, Morning Glory

Morning Glory Cupcakes

Cupcakes decorated with white icing, Blue and Yellow Sparkle Decorating Gel, and yellow Skittles

Meeting Three :: St. Margaret of Scotland, Initiative, Black Eyed Susan

Black Eyed Susan Cupcakes

Orange Muffins topped with Cream Cheese Frosting, to be decorated by the Little Flowers with homemade Black Eyed Susan Chocolates (using this candy mold and candy melts) and the options of green mint meltaways, green color mist and/or green glitter gel.

Meeting Four :: St. Zita or Proverbs 31 Woman, Orderliness, Cranberry

To make these delicious cupcakes, I used a package of Yellow Cake Mix, replacing the water with Orange Juice and added 1 cup of frozen cranberries and 1 cup of white chocolate chips.  We topped them with some Cream Cheese Frosting, homemade Sugared Cranberries (Craisins would be a simple alternative), and served them with Sparkling Cranberry Juice.  

Meeting Five :: St. Felicity and Her Seven Sons, Self-Control, Amaryllis

I started with Pink Cupcakes, with the help of a Strawberry Cake Mix, topped with Frosting.  Using this Lily Mold I then topped the cupcakes with Pink (the color for this virtue) Amaryllis Flowers (the flower for this virtue) homemade with Pink and Yellow Candy Melts.  

Meeting Six :: St. Anne, Mother of the Blessed Mother, Responsibility, Mum

These cupcakes were inspired by a recipe in What's New, Cupcake?: Ingeniously Simple Designs for Every Occasion.   They would be great to make this coming weekend for Mother's Day, anytime this month for our Blessed Mother during her month of May, or in July for the feast of St. Anne.  I posted the directions over at Catholic Cuisine!

Meeting Seven :: St. Bathildis, Patience, Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley Cupcakes
Chocolate Frosted Cupcakes, decorated with White Chocolate Chips and green frosting or Sparkle Gel.  

Meeting Eight :: Mary Mother of God, Cheerfulness, Blue Phlox

Blue Phlox Cupcakes
I wasn't sure how I was going to decorate the cupcakes this month. . . After looking at various images online of Blue Phlox Flowers I ended up making a little bit of blue frosting.  Using a round frosting tip, I put five drops (my kids said they looked like hershey kisses) on each cupcake, then, using the tip of a knife, I pulled the frosting drops towards the center, creating the flowers.   I am a total amateur at this sort of thing, but I thought they turned out nicely!

The Blue is for Our Blessed Mother and the Five Petals represent the five dimensions of Cheerfulness:  Marian, Courageous, Heroic, Consistent, and Contagious.

Meeting Nine :: St. Julie Billiart, Fortitude, Hyacinth

Pink Hyacinth Cupcakes
When I was looking for ideas, Charlotte mentioned that Pink Popcorn came to mind.  I thought that was a perfect idea, but since I didn't have all the ingredients I opted to make the pink hyacinths using some pink Smooth & Melty Petite Mints (I had purchased a few bags at 75% off in January from Hickory Farms and had one left) along with a little green frosting for the leaves.  I also sprayed the white base frosting with a little green, before adding the candies.  I thought they turned out cute, and they were very yummy despite the fact that my six year old pointed out that "the chocolate cake even looks like dirt!"

St. Therese, the Little Flower of Jesus, 
Pray for Us!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Welcome Jessica from Shower of Roses!

I'm so excited to announce a few more regular bloggers that have been added to our Little Flowers blog! Jessica from Shower of Roses blog has agreed to share with all of you her wonderful ideas for your Little Flowers Girls' Club. A link to her blog is to the right.

Here is a brief biography:

Jessica is a Roman Catholic, Wife, and Home-Educating Mother to her 6 children ages 1-11, with two more blessings in heaven and another baby due to arrive this coming January 1st. She was Home-Educated herself, along with her 11 younger siblings, before attending Christendom College for one year. Jessica started leading a Little Flowers Girls' Club 3 years ago so that her daughters would have the opportunity to participate in Little Flowers, and has been blogging meetings at Shower of Roses. Jessica is also the founder and administrator of Catholic Cuisine, a group blog she created to share recipes for celebrating the feasts and seasons of the liturgical year.

Welcome Jessica! Can't wait to see what you have planned for this year!
Jessica and her Little Flowers at their Mother/Daughter Tea

Thursday, August 18, 2011

From Our Apostolate to Yours!

Behold Publications/Ecce Homo Press: Our Family Apostolate Serving Your Apostolate

About 13 years ago, we began a family publishing house to bring fun and solidly Catholic books to youth. Since the very first book, the publishing business has encompassed the whole family. Since we homeschool, we were able to integrate real life production and business tools into our everyday lessons. Whether it was lessons on design and editing or sewing and embroidery, our children have grown up with Behold Publications as an intricate part of their lives. We have tested products that we offer, modeled them for the catalog and website, and suggested new items that would be popular for Catholic kids.

Many of the items we offer are specially made product just for our Catholic Clubs. We sew about 2000 sashes for each of our new Little Flower girls, design, sew and embroider hundreds of bandanas, as well as the aprons, totes, Little Flower doll outfits and the t-shirts. We also design, cut and laminate the thousands of holy cards we sell each year. The children help with sewing, bagging, laminating, assembling, and filling orders.

Until two years ago, we operated our apostolate out of the house. Every September, our air hockey table became our shipping center. The front porch became a sea of red, white and blue packages waiting for the postal service to pick them up. The phone rang at all hours, even getting calls at midnight from Australia! Then, our oldest son, Joe, graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville and began to work for us full time. Because I finally had a full time employee, we were able then move out of the house into a small office and warehouse. Here, Joe holds down the fort, taking calls, filling orders and editing and designing books and other items. With Joe taking care of the office, I am able to homeschool the children and work from home on the computer or the sewing machine. I usually go into the office for a few hours several days a week.

Our apostolate is still a way of life, even if we don't have sashes, boxes and books in every nook and cranny of the house. Everyone is still involved in making it all work. The children are involved in the receiving end of the apostolate by being involved in Little Flowers, Blue Knights, Hospitality and Honor Guard clubs through our local homeschool group.

We hope that as you begin your new year in your clubs, that we can partner with you in a successful and wonderful year! Please pray for our family apostolate and we will keep yours in our daily prayers, too. God bless you in your work for His work!

Joan Stromberg, wife of Bob for 27+ years. Mom to: Joe, Elizabeth, Mick, Mary, John, Maggie, Theresa, Mark, Cecelia and Thomas.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

We began our family publishing apostolate/business at the inspiration of Pope John Paul II's call for a New Evangelization. Help us celebrate his Beatification on Divine Mercy Sunday! Click through for a special offer:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Seeking Finer Fields: Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Seeking Finer Fields: Happy Saint Patrick's Day!: "Our Saint Patrick drew rave reviews from the crowd and loved his role, in spite of wearing a refurbished tablecloth and a four-pound bra..."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Living Lent Inside and Out

Lent is upon us.

Once again, we have a chance as parents not only to teach our children but show our children what our faith means. While in it’s methods, Little Flowers (and all Behold the Child programs) want to teach our children the beauty of the truths of our faith, we also want to show them.

Lent is a wonderful time to show our children how to prepare themselves for Easter by our own actions. Unlike Advent, when the preparations for the feast have an inherent joy to them and the family gathers around the Advent wreath and manger on the mantle, Lent is often ‘done alone’ and we might not think about making it a family event.

We can take the verse of Matthew 6:6 to heart: “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

It is from Matthew 6, in fact, that we get our Lenten admonitions to pray, sacrifice and tithe. And these admonitions even come with the familiar caveat: "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

This can make us feel that what we do for Lent we should do without anyone knowing - including our own family and children. However, we must keep this verse in proper context; while we do not want to announce in the streets what we are doing, we are required as parents to teach our children what Lent means. Teach them and show them. Let them see you pray, see you sacrifice and see you tithe. Let them see you doing all of this with a spirit of joy and happiness throughout Lent. Continuing with Matthew 6 we have "do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting.”

Some suggestions:

*Make plans to take your group to the Stations of the Cross together.

*Show them the Liturgy of the Hours and teach them ‘how to pray’ it.

*Do a fundraising event or canned food drive for your church’s food pantry.

*Decide as a group to forgo TV or another child-appropriate sacrifice in unity with each other; perhaps gathering for a book club discussion (might we suggest one of “Glory of America” books) instead.

*Have a pizza party (cheese only) one Friday at a local senior citizens’ center or home and stay to play games or watch a movie with them.

The goal of these suggestions being to make Lent not so much what you are doing ‘in secret’ but what you are doing to bring Christ to all people.

If you have older children (over 12 yrs.), Lent might be a great time to introduce them to the Honor Guard. This program was developed with an apostolic zeal helping our children take their faith to the streets. Not in a manner to gain public acknowledgement but rather to help them in fulfilling the Great Commission from Matthew 28:18-20. The Honor Guard can be done by both boys and girls, you can even have them working together.

For these older children, Lent needs to become more than giving up candy and the computer. Helping them see that their faith requires action is vital not only for them but for the world. As you read Matthew 6 to your children to prepare them for Lent, be sure to read James 2 where they will be reminded, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

Be assured of our prayers this Lent, may you and your families grow in love and in holiness.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The True Value of a Woman: Self-Esteem vs. Self-Worth

Editor's note: This week, it was brought to the attention of the Little Flowers Leaders who are members of the Leader's Yahoogroup that Girl Scouts have recently released new educational material that brings their agenda to a whole new level. A 15-year old girl, herself a Girl Scout until these materials were released, is fighting the battle to make diocesan youth ministers and others aware of these new materials' anti-Catholic and anti-family bias. If you wish more on this topic, please sign onto the Leader's list here: Scroll down and type your email into the yahoogroup box and search recent messages for details. As a result of this discussion, our Little Flower's creator, Rachel Watkins wanted to remind us of our Catholic doctrine and how important the Church's teaching is in analyzing the world around us and our unique and vital roles as women.

Like some of you, I was raised 'as one of the guys', having six brothers and my three sisters being much older. I found more comfort playing sports than shopping any day - still do - and my husband will attest that while I love cooking, the cleaning is whole 'nother story (as they say). When God called me to be a at-home mother, and homeschool to boot, I balked at the seemingly unimportance of these roles. I was giving up an exciting career and 'my own money' when God started calling me home and I didn't go easily. Needless to say, my dh and eleven kids have taught me a lot over that past 25+ years about the importance I hold in their lives. More importantly, Christ has affirmed time and again that my being home was the 'better part' for my life.

Along the way, I needed to learn (re-teach myself, so to speak) that there are many paths to holiness and many ways to transform the world. God was just asking me to embrace His plan over my own (always a good idea). The Church's document on women, Mulieras Dignitatem, states as much.

Therefore the Church gives thanks for each and every woman: for mothers, for sisters, for wives; for women consecrated to God in virginity; for women dedicated to the many human beings who await the gratuitous love of another person; for women who watch over the human persons in the family, which is the fundamental sign of the human community; for women who work professionally, and who at times are burdened by a great social responsibility; for "perfect"women and for "weak" women - for all women as they have come forth from the heart of God in all the beauty and richness of their femininity; as they have been embraced by his eternal love; as, together with men, they are pilgrims on this earth, which is the temporal "homeland" of all people and is transformed sometimes into a "valley of tears"; as they assume, together with men,a common responsibility for the destiny of humanity according to daily necessities and according to that definitive destiny which the human family has in God himself, in the bosom of the ineffable Trinity.

The Church gives thanks for all the manifestations of the feminine "genius" which have appeared in the course of history, in the midst of all peoples and nations; she gives thanks for all the charisms which the Holy Spirit distributes to women in the history of the People of God, for all the victories which she owes to their faith, hope and charity: she gives thanks for all the fruits of feminine holiness.

I love being called to discover my 'feminine genius' and am a bit humbled that I am called to help all of my daughters discover theirs. But, I will say, they won't be doing it in an organization that espouses openly mocking one of the sacraments of the Church as this play does.

The parents in the play were wrong to attempt to force their daughter into one path, this should not be overlooked or denied. But the play belittles women for whom these more 'traditional' roles are their vocation (not to mention really enjoyable). Rather than striving to place the onus of the situation Maria is enduring on the poor parenting skills or the lousy marriage, the author is using her play as an opportunity to bash the Catholic Church.

In particular was the author's decision to rewrite the vows of the sacrament so viciously:

(This is an exerpt of the play Simply Maria by Josephina Lopez that is referred to in the Girl Scout Junior Level Journeys book. --ed.) PRIEST. Dearly beloved, we are gathered here, under the Catholic church, in the holy house of God, to unite these two people in holy matrimony. Marriage is sacred. It is the unification of a man and a woman, their love and commitment, forever, and ever, and ever, no matter what! Well, then let's begin.María, do you accept José Juan Gonzalez García López as your lawfully wedded husband to love cherish, serve, cook for, clean for, sacrifice for, have his children, keep house, love him, even if he beats you, commits adultery, gets drunk, rapes you, lawfully, denies your identity, money, and in return ask for nothing? (MARIA thinks about it and then turns to her parents who mouth to her "I do.")"

The Church's view of marriage is nothing as suggested and it is offensive for someone to imply it does.

LFGC strives to be an organization that seeks the same thing for our daughters as described by Mulieras Dignitatem. We want our girls will discover their own 'fruits of feminine holiness'. We want to be a part of helping that garden (or perhaps we should say orchard) grow.

Our daughters will be one day have a chance to change the world. Perhaps some will do it as St. Therese of Lisieux did - without leaving the convent and dying before she was 30 yrs. old, they may be called by being more like St. Margaret of Scotland who transformed a country while finding time for 8 kids or perhaps as Dorothy Day who taught us the dignity of the forgotten!

However, most of our daughters will do it anonymously as we are doing it - - one carpool at a time, one box of macaroni and cheese at a time or one paycheck at a time. What we do in our homes is no less valid to God as what occurs in a public arena - holiness is not reserved to any single person, place or time. We can affect change in our world and God expects us to! I am grateful to the Holy Spirit that LFGC can be a part of it for your family - for as long as we are needed.

God Bless,
Rachel Watkins

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wreath I Virtue Stories now available on the Kindle!

Another of our book is now being offered for the Kindle e-book reader from Amazon. Little Flowers Wreath I Virtue Stories is now available on Kindle! Get it at a special Kindle price of $4.95! The Kindle version includes a special interactive table of contents. Get yours today!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New Little Flowers Embroidered Hoodie!

For a limited time only, beautiful, snugly, embroidered Little Flowers Hoodies are available for only $22/each! Hurry, supplies are limited! Order for your daughter or your whole club today!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dressing Up Your Marriage!

In this little newsletter you have come to expect a bit of insight into how to run your club, ideas on games and suggestions for activities. We hope you will be pleased to know that this newsletter is focusing on you! Well, YOU, by way of your marriage.

We want to encourage you to make sure in juggling schooling, carpooling, and activities you don’t let the ball that is your marriage get dropped or neglected. Your marriage is the foundation of your family and therefore vital to the formation and raising of your children. While we would say our clubs (all of them) are great (and they are), we would be remiss if we didn’t remind you and encourage you to make sure you are taking time to keep your sacrament of marriage as healthy as possible.

It is an interesting phenomenon within Catholic families that they will make sure to get to the Sacrament of the Mass every Sunday (and usually more often with many families) and the Sacrament of Confession monthly but parents balk when it comes to getting out on a date!

Consider the preparations you went through the last time one of your children first received a sacrament. You ensured they attended every meeting necessary, you went over their books and materials and, for sure, they had something wonderful to wear. This same dedication however falters a bit, for all of us, as receiving Communion or Confession becomes a more common event.

We can all become so familiar with receiving the sacraments that we don’t pay as much attention. Some Catholics even fulfill the old adage of “familiarity breeds contempt”. For these families they can barely seem to get out of bed before heading to Mass, much wear clothes fit for a King. I know I have fallen into judgment when I see people in communion line who seem to have forgotten they are at Mass! “Don’t they know they are receiving a sacrament!," I can wonder.

However, while we could not imagine ourselves ever taking those sacraments for granted, are we as dedicated to keeping the sacrament of our marriage as alive, vital and important to our lives? Have we become so familiar with our marriage sacrament that we are attending to it as if we were attending Mass in pajamas?

Our bishops have recognized this reality and have dedicated this year of catechesis to “Matrimony: Sacrament of Enduring Love”. They are also encouraging us to give time to our marriages through World Marriage Day and National Week of Marriage, USA. You can get more information on these efforts at

We gain grace every time we take part in the sacraments of our Church and our marriage is no different. From our catechism (#1641) we can know: "By reason of their state in life and of their order, [Christian spouses] have their own special gifts in the People of God." This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple's love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they "help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children."

When your children’s enthusiasm for the Eucharist and Confession wanes we all strive to remind them of the graces they gain. We tell them - repeatedly if necessary - these sacraments are both necessary for their salvation and key to achieving it. Not only that, we will tell them, receipt of both of those sacraments makes life on earth easier as well. The same is true for our marriage.

Our marriages not only help us attain holiness but also make life here on earth both easier and, hopefully, a whole lot more fun! This year we want to encourage you to make time for you and your marriage. Make date night a priority - even if it takes place in your own home due to lack of a babysitter or money. Look into good books on marriage (I might suggest my friends and radio hosts - Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak as a good first stop -

Other couples give high marks to Marriage Encounter or their diocese marriage retreats as a yearly necessity. See what is available in your area to help you have a better marriage than you do, and be ready to admit that everyone can have a better marriage! Commit to reading a well-recommended book or just making time to talk about something other than the kids and the bills!

Consider these efforts for your marriage a vital part of your children’s formation. Remember they will base their ideas of a spouse and marriage on what they see at home - help them to see only good things. With excitement over the upcoming “Princesses You Can Believe In” series, we might say working on your marriage is like teaching your kids “Happily Ever After” is not just in fairy tales!

By focusing on the importance of marriage it is not our intention to make anyone who is a single parent to feel like a second-class citizen and not vital to your child's formation. Having single parents in my family (Rachel's), I've seen first-hand both the struggles and successes in families led by a mother (my sister) or father (my brother) alone.

Insuring you have time to restore yourself is perhaps even more vital when you are working alone. Our encouragement to families to build up their marriages should never be interrepted as a criticism for those who aren't married. Parents are key to a child'd formation regardless as you will remain a reflection of God's love. Strive to make time regularly to both form yourself and restore yourself so you are better prepared to face the battles and struggles of life.