Friday, November 30

From Office Building to Church: Part One...

Here are some photographs of the building that will soon house our little mission parish. Hopefully, there will be plenty of updates the next few weeks... We are hoping to be in by the beginning of January!

The view from the front (our part of the building is the right wing of the structure)...

The inside...

The view from the back porch...

Clementine Love...

If your family has been enjoying clementines as much as mine has, don't forget to toss the skins down your garbage disposal. The oils in citrus fruit impart a lovely fragrance that deodorizes your disposal for free! I've also found that the boxes are lovely when used for organizing! Here are my daughter's "cleaning supplies" neatly boxed up ready for her to use! The boxes are sturdy and light... perfect for her little hands. Just be sure to check them for rough bits of wood. It would be terrible for a little finger to get a splinter!

For more frugal tips, check out Crystal's blog!

Thursday, November 29

Test Your Knowledge of Church History...

This quiz is going to appear in the bulletin this Sunday (shh... you're getting a sneak peek!). My husband has taken all of the questions from the class that he taught this past Monday, Orthodoxy 101: Saint Constantine the Great (4th century) to the Great Schism between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church (11th century).

Orthodoxy 101 - Quiz Two
  1. What 6th century saintly Byzantine emperor outlined the idea of Symphony between Church and State?
  2. What does the word "Jihad" mean in Arabic?
  3. How many Ecumenical Councils were there?
  4. (True or False) The Nicaean Creed was written to correct false teachings.
  5. (True or False) According to Islamic law, Christians are free to practice their faith in the Arabian peninsula provided they do so in the privacy of their own homes.
  6. How many natures and wills does Christ have? What are they?
  7. Which Ecumenical Council upheld the veneration of icons?
  8. (True or False) A skete is a very large monastery where every monk and nun follows the same practice and discipline as the others.
  9. In what year did the Great Schism between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches occur?
  10. What does the Latin word "Filioque" mean?
Post your answers in the comments section! I will put up the answer key in a few days!

Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Cookies...

Though these really aren't the most beautiful cookies, they taste delicious and have become one of my husband's favorite treats during Lenten seasons.

1/4 c. soft shortening
1/4 c. margarine
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. soymilk

1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Combine mixed ingredients with dry ingredients. Chill dough. Roll into balls the size of walnuts and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Flatten balls with a fork dipped into sugar. Bake at 375 for 10 - 12 minutes.

Tuesday, November 27

There is Something Wrong with this Picture...

It is November 27th, the trees outside my window are either bare or nearly so, and it is so warm that my child is in her summer pajamas and the windows are open! Where is the nip in the air? Why am I not snuggled under a down blanket sipping hot cocoa by a roaring fire (not that we have a fireplace, but you get the point!)? It was nearly 70 degrees on Thanksgiving for goodness sake!

Monday, November 26

November 25th...

It's time for another Commitment to Loveliness! This is a fun way to increase femininity and beauty in our lives each week without even trying! All you have to do is choose five things that you would like to work on or do during the week that will increase the loveliness in your life!

Here is my list for this week:

1. Refresh my manicure kit and makeup bag and start primping!
2. Bake some Lenten cookies for our family and Fr. John's Orthodoxy 101 class on Monday night.
3. Take time to dress a little more nicely... my belly is getting big and stretchy pants are so tempting!

4. Work on speaking more beautifully
5. Work on lunchtime meal ideas... PB&J is kind of getting old for Fr. John!

Once you have chosen five simple things, post them on your blog and link to this post in your post, and then post the direct link to your Commitment to Loveliness post below. If you do not have a blog, but have a commitment to share, please post them in the comments section.

Sunday, November 25

Reusing the Thanksgiving Centerpieces...

Notice the set of Anne books that a dear friend sent me! I'm on my way to Avonlea tonight!

Hospital Packing List..

Since our last trip to the hospital to have a baby was rather unexpected (our daughter was born a month early after I developed pre-ecclampsia) and I never got to enjoy packing a hospital bag, I've already compiled a list of things I'd like to bring. Is there anything that I'm missing that you more experienced moms had and found helpful?

Hospital Packing List
  • Birth plan
  • Insurance card and hospital paperwork
  • Hairbrush and hair clips
  • Lip moisturizer
  • Bathrobe, nightgowns, slippers, and several pairs of socks
  • Book, magazine, puzzle book, paper, and pens
  • Money
  • Toiletries, change of clothes, snacks, book, camera, and video camera for Fr. John
  • Snacks for after the birth and hard candy for during
  • Nursing bras and lots of underwear
  • Toiletries for me
  • Music
  • Water bottles
  • List of people and their telephone numbers to call after baby is born
  • Going home outfits for mama and baby
  • Blanket, hat, booties, and sweater for baby
  • Diaper bag with things for big sister and baby
  • Maxi pads
  • Gift for big sister from baby
  • Birth announcements, envelopes, stamps, and address book
  • Bottle of Sparkling Cider

Saturday, November 24

Trading in My Ugly Hands for Feminine Ones...

Today, while I was lying down with my little one, she took a very rarely used tube of lotion from my nightstand and started playing with it. I opened it for her and put a dab on her soft little hands and showed her how to rub it in. She totally loved it! After she moved on to play with something else, I absentmindedly began to inspect my own hands and nails. To say that they are ugly is an understatement! My nails are pretty short and uneven (due to hastily trimming them with a toe-nail clipper rather than using a nail-file) and the skin is rough to the touch and very dry.

As a wife, mother, and homemaker I am constantly using my hands in caring for my family, cooking, and tending our home. My hands touch the skin of people I love and are visible to everyone from the checkout clerk at the grocery store to other mothers on the playground. I have seen women who do the same things (and more!) that I do and can maintain pretty nails and soft skin... I am going to turn over a new leaf and start caring for these hands so that I can stop being embarrassed about them!

To start with, I am going to try to use the cream on my nightstand each morning when I wake up and each evening before I go to sleep. I will also try to pick up a little manicure kit at the store next time I am there.

Is there anything that you have been neglecting with your appearance lately? If so, post about it and let us know how you are planning to remedy your situation!

Tuesday, November 20

Thanksgiving Craft...

Here is the craft that I will be doing with my younger cousins on Thanksgiving. I've made one myself and it isn't too hard for a Martha project! I think the kidlets will enjoy it! I'll be sure to post pictures of their work.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving...

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving airs tonight on ABC at 8pm!

Sunday, November 18

Novemeber 18th...

It's time for another Commitment to Loveliness! This is a fun way to increase femininity and beauty in our lives each week without even trying! All you have to do is choose five things that you would like to work on or do during the week that will increase the loveliness in your life!

Here is my list for this week:

1. Create centerpieces and work on craft ideas for Thanksgiving.
2. Light candles once we are in for the evening.
3. Take family walks several times this week.

4. Work on speaking more beautifully
5. Really savor time with family during Thanksgiving!

Once you have chosen five simple things, post them on your blog and link to this post in your post, and then post the direct link to your Commitment to Loveliness post below. If you do not have a blog, but have a commitment to share, please post them in the comments section.

Thanksgiving Centerpieces...

My mother asked me to come up with a craft (we always do one with the younger children) and decorations for our family's large Thanksgiving gathering. Here are the centerpieces that I made for the tables:

There are three pots of flowers total (see the center picture) and I will place a candle on either side of each pot. Hopefully they will not be dwarfed by the loooong table we will need to feed our clan!

Thanksgiving Centerpiece Tutorial...

In order to make a pretty centerpiece for your table, you will need one clay pot, paint, a paintbrush, floral foam, silk (or dried or real) flowers, wire cutters (if you are using silk flowers), scissors, and ribbon.

1. Begin with a clean and dry clay pot.

2. Paint your pot.

3. Once your pot is dry, cut some floral foam to fit snugly inside. Push it in and blow away any foam dust.

4. Select the flowers that you would like to use. Cut the stems to desired length.

5. Arrange your flowers in your pot, pushing into the floral foam very firmly. Tie a ribbon bow around your pot and enjoy!

Note: The flowers that I used were silk ones from Michael's. Since they are Fall ones, they were a whopping 90% off! That means that each branch (originally $4.99) was about 50 cents!!!

Go there now!! :)

Thursday, November 15


I have been tagged by Nanny Kim and asked to share seven random facts about myself:
  • I dated my husband for three and half years. After the first year of dating, it was a long distance relationship until we got married.
  • I've known my husband since he was about nine and I was seven.
  • I have had a "crush" on him since day one.
  • I once tattled-tailed on him and his brothers to their mother because they were watching a Freddie Kruger movie and refused to turn it off even though my sisters and I were scared.
  • When I was a freshman in high school, my future mother-in-law brought over a photocopied newspaper clipping of a feature on Fr. John the Basketball Star. When she accidentally left it at our house, I took it and saved it. I still have it!
  • Since both of our fathers are priests in the Orthodox Church and their churches were pretty close, Fr. John and his brothers went to Confession to my dad and my sisters, brother, and I went to confession to his dad!
  • We go to Confession to different priests now;)
If you read this and would like to tell us seven random facts about yourself, consider yourself tagged! Leave a comment and we'll come to your blog!

Forty Days with Natalie...

This is a beautiful article written by a woman who took full advantage of the Orthodox tradition of taking forty days to recuperate and welcome a new child into one's life. Enjoy!

Updated!! Nativity Fast Questions and Answers...

After posting a blurb or two on Sunday about the Nativity Fast, I was surprised that so many people showed an interest in learning more about what we do! I've copied and pasted the questions that I saw asked (if I missed yours, I do apologize... leave me another comment under this post and I will add it and my answer to this post).

Do you have to follow the dietary rules when breastfeeding?
In the Orthodox Church, there are many different levels of fasting. Here is an article on the Fasting Rule in the Orthodox Church. It is important to note that every individual and family does things a bit differently. The Church is very flexible, but encourages people to talk to their priest or spiritual father when making a decision on how to keep the fasts. My husband and I consulted our spiritual father when we were pregnant with our first child and decided together that it would be best if I tried to eliminate meat from my diet during Lenten seasons that fell during my pregnancies and the time I was nursing. However, if my doctor suggested that I needed to eat meat, I would do it!

When does your Advent start?
Today (November 15)!

What will you be eating throughout your fast?
I am able to eat anything but meat and meat products. My husband follows a more strict rule (no meat or dairy the entire fast and he'll only eat fish on feast days).

Does your young one fast as well?
Our daughter pretty much eats whatever I eat. We don't mind if she has a little meat though (on Thanksgiving she'll probably have some turkey and gravy at our family's get-together). Interestingly enough though, she loves fasting types of foods!

Does the term "Lenten seasons" include Advent?
Yes! There are four main Lenten seasons in the Orthodox Church: Great Lent (the fast before Easter), The Apostles Fast (the fast before Saints Peter and Paul's Fest day -June 29), The Dormition Fast (the fast in honor of the Mother of God's repose), and The Nativity Fast (Advent or Christmas Lent).

Is there a particular reason why your season starts today?
Yes. November 15th is exactly forty days before Christmas (The number 40 is very significant Biblically as it represents fullness).

What are the "fasting types of foods" that you little one likes?
She loves shrimp (with cocktail sauce of all things!), any kind of soup, pastas, beans, fish (when it's a fish day;)), fruits, salsa (even the spicy kind!) and corn chips, and veggies. If it's on her father's plate, she's all over it!

One more follow-up question - if I'm doing my math correctly, 40 days after November 15 is December 25. I've heard that "Orthodox Christmas" is in January. I assume these are different churches/branches?
Some Orthodox Christians are on the "new calendar (Gregorian)" and some are on the "old calendar (Julian)". The Gregorian Calendar is the calendar that we use in the world today and some Orthodox Christians are on it (we are, which is why we celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December) while some Orthodox Christians are on the Julian Calendar (my parents and siblings are on this one) and celebrate Christmas thirteen days later on January 7th. Many times, January 7th is called "Russian Christmas."

Here is a second article on The Meaning of Fasting in the Orthodox Church.

Aleksei Evstigniev: The Donskoy Monastery

Tuesday, November 13

St. Nicholas Center Website...

If you are planning on celebrating Saint Nicolas Day this year (December 6th), you might want to check out The Saint Nicholas Center website. In addition to a shop (where I got a Ukrainian version of a Saint Nicolas cookie cutter), there are lovely stories about St. Nicolas, craft ideas, lists of way to celebrate the feast, and more. We are planning on putting out our shoes again this year and baking some cookies. What special things do you do to celebrate the day?

If You're Looking for a Great Pumpkin Pie Recipe...

... go to Monica's blog and try her award winning version! I've made it twice (once without nuts and once with pecans instead of walnuts) and it has earned rave reviews both times! Enjoy!

Sunday, November 11

True Confessions Time...

Though I have watched the movies, Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, numerous times, until this weekend I had never even cracked open the Anne books! I borrowed Green Gables from the library on Friday and am more than half way through... I love it! I have no idea why I never read the books (I know that at least one of my sisters did). Unfortunately, our library doesn't carry any of Montgomery's other Anne books, so I'll have to either inter-library loan them or buy them... either way, I plan on getting the next ones soon!

November 11th...

It's time for another Commitment to Loveliness! This is a fun way to increase femininity and beauty in our lives each week without even trying! All you have to do is choose five things that you would like to work on or do during the week that will increase the loveliness in your life!

Here is my list for this week:

1. Tidy up front porch flower pots.
2. Plan Lenten meals that are filling and appetizing
3. Complete bedside basket

4. Get shoes out of the house by organizing them in the garage
5. Use scented lotion and "do" hair daily!

Once you have chosen five simple things, post them on your blog and link to this post in your post, and then post the direct link to your Commitment to Loveliness post below. If you do not have a blog, but have a commitment to share, please post them in the comments section.

Faux Thanksgiving...

Since we will be in the midst of the Nativity Fast when Thanksgiving rolls around, we decided that we would celebrate a little early. I made all the typical foods we all love: chicken (turkeys are too big for our little family), stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and gravy. It was delicious!

Friday, November 9

Forty Days...

A reader recently asked what I was referring to in my last post when I mentioned my "forty days." Here is an article I wrote last April on this very topic: 40 Days.

Good Neighbors, John William Waterhouse

A Bedside Basket...

With the birth of our second drawing closer and the memory of an early arrival for our first-born still fresh, I have been planning crazily for our new addition! One of the things that I would like to accomplish soon is the assembly of a basket full of little goodies our 17 month old can enjoy while I am indesposed (hopefully due to caring for an infant and not because I am on bed rest!).

So far, my basket (which is just a shopping bag at present) has two paint with water coloring books, paint brushes, and a few sweets to use for treats. I am thinking about getting some small containers of PlayDoh (perhaps I'll add a few mini cookie cutters and a small rolling pin to this), a few more plastic animals for her farm collection, and a book or two. We will, of course, be availing ourselves of the library (hopefully Papa will be able to make a few trips during my 40 days), but other than that, I am stumped!

What suggestions do you wiser mothers have for me? I'd like to keep cost to a minimum, but am open to pretty much anything that a toddler will find novel! Thank you!

Painting by Jessie Wilcox Smith

Tuesday, November 6

Taking the Chill Out of Your House...

When we returned home from being away several days, our house was very dark and quite chilly. Here's what I did to being the warmth back in:
  • We quickly toted everything into the house from the car. Now if we have errands to run tomorrow, there will be no shopping bags, bits of trash, overnight cases or toys in the way.
  • While Hubby got the mail and brought in the garbage can, I started working on a quick and filling dinner (baked ziti and a pan of brownies!)... cooking food always warms up the house!
  • The next step was to change the baby, turn up the heat (it was off to save energy while we we away), flick on the computer, and switch on a light upstairs. Fr. John was able to keep up with his business while we were away, but there are always e-mails to be written and while he is waiting for dinner is the perfect time to work on them!
  • To spread the cheer, I lit a few candles downstairs and started putting things away from our trip before dinner. When things are tidy, life seems a bit more easy to manage.
  • Now that dinner is over, the dishes are done, and a head-achy husband is tucked into a nest on the couch, it is time to snuggle down with a sleeping baby, brownies, and a book in the big bed!
Painting by Carl Larsson

A New Jan Karon Series...

Mitford fans take heart! Jan Karon has written a new book entitled Home to Holly Springs. Here is the synopsis:

Readers of the nine bestselling Mitford novels have been captivated by Jan Karon’s “gift for illuminating the struggles that creep into everyday lives—along with a vividly imagined world” (People). They learned quickly that “after you’ve spent time in Mitford, you’ll want to come back” (Chicago Tribune). Millions eagerly awaited the publication of each novel, relishing the story of the bookish and bighearted Episcopal priest and the extraordinary fullness of his seemingly ordinary life.

Now, Jan Karon enchants us with the story of the newly retired priest’s spur-of-the-moment adventure. For the first time in decades, Father Tim returns to his birthplace, Holly Springs, Mississippi, in response to a mysterious, unsigned note saying simply: “Come home.” Little does he know how much these two words will change his life. A story of long-buried secrets, forgiveness, and the wonder of discovering new people, places, and depth of feeling, Home to Holly Springs will enthrall new readers and longtime fans alike.

The Mission is Moving...

Thank you very much for all of the prayers you said on our behalf this past weekend! There was no ugliness at the meeting and the entire congregation decided unanimously to move the church to a different ( and much better) location!! Within the next eight weeks, we hope to be holding services in a new worship space! I am hoping to document (with my husband's help!) the move with pictures, so stay tuned if you want to see an office building transformed into an Orthodox chapel!
Painting: Prayer Sergey Glushkov (2000)

Saturday, November 3

Prayers Requested...

Please keep our church family in your prayers this weekend. We will be having a special parish meeting to discuss the future location of our mission church. It is a highly sensitive topic and Fr. John and I are really praying for a decision to be reached with as little ugliness as possible. I will keep you posted on the outcome of the meeting!

Answers to the Orthodoxy 101 Quiz...

  1. Who was the first Christian martyr? Saint Stephen
  2. What emperor falsely blamed Christians for the great fire which broke out in Rome in 64 AD? Emperor Nero
  3. What did the Gnostics claim to have that they said even the Apostles didn't? Secret knowledge. Each Gnostic leader claimed to know the true teachings of Christ.
  4. When was the first time the books of the New Testament were listed as we have them today? 387 AD. However, the books of the New Testament, themselves, were all written between 50 and 100 AD.
  5. Who issued the Edict of Milan? What did this do for Christianity? Saint Constantine the Great. The Edict made Christianity a legalized religion, though not the official religion of the Empire.
  6. According the Acts of the Apostles, who presided at the Council of Jerusalem in 50 AD: The Apostle Peter, Paul or James? Saint James the Brother of the Lord, the first bishop of Jerusalem.
  7. True or False: In the early Church, Confession was public. True (yikes is right!).
  8. In What year was Jerusalem destroyed by Emperor Titus? 70 AD
  9. According to the Didache, "The Teaching of the Apostles" (100 - 120 AD), what do Christians do on Wednesdays and Fridays? They fasted in honor of Christ's betrayal and crucifixion.
  10. Who was the only of the twelve Apostles not to be martyred? Saint John the Theologian.
Thank you to everyone who tried the quiz! I got about four wrong and I was at the class on Monday (though I was chasing after after a very speedy toddler!).

Fiddler on the Roof...

Though not a fan of musicals, my husband agreed to watch Fiddler on the Roof last night! We saw the first half, and my childhood came rushing back! We owned the tape and then cd when I was younger and my sisters and I would dance around singing the music at the top of our lungs. I must say that it was a little difficult to watch the very obvious anti-tsar propaganda though, especially since he and his family are canonized as saints in the Orthodox Church.

Thursday, November 1

Of Tutus and Little Girls...

I popped into our local Children's Place outlet store and scored this cute hot pink and lime green tutu (actually an entire ensemble of leotard, tutu, wings, and headband antenna for $4.99, all astonishingly well made) for our little one. She has a great love of dancing and twirled happily while wearing it this afternoon. If you want to plump up your dress-up trunks, now is the time! I noticed a lot of great costumes at several stores for really low prices!

She's Back...

After jealously hearing many of you mentioning on your blogs that you had already received Victoria, I was very happy to discover my long-awaited copy on the kitchen table when I returned from a blood draw this morning... A very nice reward after being poked and jabbed!
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