Sunday, October 30

Favorite Things: Real Dishes...

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

-William Morris

Before I was married, I had the opportunity to babysit for a family that I admired very much. Both parents were very cultured and elegant and I soaked up as much as I could on the Mondays that I cared for their little girl. One of the things that I noticed was that they gave their child real food on real dishes with real silverware. She ate her grape tomatoes, slices of salami, and wedges of cheese very daintily. Grilled shrimp, olives, and soups were eaten with relish. There was not one chicken tender or noodle coated in butter in sight. This child even liked Bubble Water (mineral water) in her glass. I thing I loved most was that she could enjoy wholesome foods on the same plates that everyone used.

When it was time to start feeding Sugar Plum food, I was eager to avoid the ugly plastic dishes and utensils in our price range and so I looked for alternatives to the baby dishes one can find in the big box stores. I didn't have to look far! Many shops sell different kinds of tiny dishes for condiments, sauces, and tiny portions. Over the years, I have picked up a wide variety of little dishes for very little money. I have also found that many places sell tiny forks, spoons, and knives for appetizers and these are perfect for little ones learning to feed themselves.

Though I mainly sought to use real dishes and utensils for two reasons - practicality (children's things don't seem to work as well... especially the utensils) and beauty (children's things in our price range are ugly) - I have found that there are some other benefits as well. For one, our little ones are careful with breakable things. I also believe that avoiding plastic as much as possible is good for their health.

Mealtime can be one of the best times for a family and having a table set with pretty things can make it even more enjoyable!

Friday, October 28

Late October Nature Table...

We have been slacking off on our nature tables these past few months... it is currently situated on a low chest of drawers and at just the right height for Button to reach. We had a few vases of flowers dumped onto the carpet before I decided to take a break. I saw this branch of red leaves on my way back from the market though and had to try again. It will probably need to find a new home in a few minutes!

We will be moving to the new house soon (probably before Christmas), so I want to document this house and all of it's dear little corners before we go. Based on past experience, I know that it will be nice to look back!

Festal Learning Basket: The Archangel Michael...

Commemorated November 8th

Host a Saint Michael's Party and dress up as Angels or Saints (We do this on the Sunday closest to the feast)
Serve Blackberries: Blackberry Tea, Blackberry Jam, Fresh Blackberries over Waffles, Blackberry Pie or Cobbler, or Add Blackberries to a Salad
Add a special candle to your table to eat dinner by during the autumn
Prepare a feastday shelf with an icon of the Archangel Michael or any other Angels
Purchase Pots of Michaelmas Daisies to Decorate With

Tuesday, October 25

The Ordinary Arts: The Creative Arts...


Flowers through the window

lavender and yellow

changed by white curtains-
smell of cleanliness-

sunshine of late afternoon-
on the glass tray

A glass pitcher, the tumbler
turned down, by which

a key is lying- And the
immaculate white bed.

- William Carlos Williams


I am the first to admit that ordinary household chores can seem dreary and mundane. I mean, who really wants to scrub a potty? Homemaking is more than endless cleaning though. It is a creative art. It is rosy red apples in a bowl, the sheen of freshly polished wood, the smell of newly laundered sheets, a messy pile of books left on the couch, a jar of flowers from the garden, a mound of bath toys drip-drying on the side of the tub, coffee brewing, and curtains blowing in the breeze.

Someday, I will finally learn how to knit. I will take the photography course I have always wanted to take. I will learn how to bake and decorate a fancy cake. For now though, I will enjoy trying to create a home that is my husband and children's favorite place to be.

Join in with Kyrie this week!

Sunday, October 23

Take the Kids to Church...

George Strickland, Ph. D.,

Based on new studies conducted by Baylor University, children from more religious families and from families with higher rates of religious attendance are better behaved and more well adjusted at home and at school. Better educated people generally had parents who attended church services twice or more a month. Among people with graduate level educations, two-thirds had mothers who were from frequent church attendees, compared to just under half of people with only a high school education. The difference is just as significant when looking at the frequency of church attendance by both parents and even larger when looking at fathers' attendance. This evidence is highly correlated with other studies that show church attendance during adolescence helps reduce a number of the damaging long-term risk factors of disadvantaged children and leads to better education success overall.

There are a number of reasons why parents' religious attendance might improve children's educational and developmental outcomes. First, children may be more likely to learn wholesome values and moral commitment if they go to church. Second, a parish can provide an important sense of community that can help develop commitment to voluntarism, social responsibility and a sense of self-worth. Third, having children who attend church together can help as-sure that a child grows up in an intact family. The Baylor studies show:

• The average person is 50 percent less likely to be divorced or separated if he or she attends religious services at least twice a month.

• The divorce rate among those who never attend worship is close to double that of week-ly church goers.

If parents go to church—especially if they go together—children are likely to grow up in intact families. Having an intact family has numerous benefits, both financial and social-psychological: higher household income, better health care, more involvement by parents, result in children who are less likely to smoke, less likely to have sex early, and more likely to be happy. Any of these benefits could explain why children are more likely to get a good education when their parents attend church often.

Since the parents church attendance is highly correlated with educational outcomes, the Baylor studies indicate some fascinating observations. Among people with children, the more educated their occupational classification, the higher level of church attendance. But among the childless, things go in the opposite direction--the less educated is slightly more likely to attend church at least twice a month. What is really fascinating is that people in high and mid-range education dramatically increase their church attendance when they have children—while those in the less educated occupations do not.

The connection between family and church is quite strong. Despite the perennially announced decline in the church's importance--its announcement being greeted with cheers among the "cultured despisers of religion"--the church remains vital and intact. Often overlooked in various studies are the ways in which the values expressed by the church infiltrate and influence countless lives for the better. When parents go to church and take their children, the kids get more education, and have more satisfying and happy lives.

Saturday, October 22

Once Upon a Time...

Is anyone planning on watching Once Upon a Time? I think that it looks like a good show! It starts tomorrow night on ABC.

Thursday, October 20

The Myrrh-streaming Iveron Icon of Hawaii...

The Myrrh-streaming Iveron Icon of Hawaii visited the Greek Orthodox church in a nearby town yesterday evening. The faithful from the area packed the church for this special occasion, offering a supplicatory canon, venerating the icon, and then being anointed with the holy myrrh which miraculously streams forth from the icon bringing consolation and healing.

Wednesday, October 19

The Ordinary Arts: The Domestic Arts...

While I made a pot of chili tonight, my little helper offered to rinse dishes at the sink. I put down my spoon and took up the camera to capture the moment. I love seeing her on tiptoe trying to reach the faucet. She chattered the whole time about whatever she was thinking about and what we had done during the day and about how much she liked washing dishes. Later, when we sat down to eat, both the older children thanked me for their dinner. It was perfect. I hope when it isn't a perfect day (like tomorrow), I can remember that we are works in progress and it will be perfect again.


Join in with Kyrie this week!

Tuesday, October 18

The Ordinary Arts: The Art of Nurturing...

Be soft of voice
and gentle of bearing
be kind of heart
and tender of hands

Be bright as the morn
and still as the evening
within you they'll find
God's love reborn.

I was introduced to this poem by my friend Eva and this is exactly how I would like to be for my husband, my children, and myself.


Join in with Kyrie this week!

Sunday, October 16

The Ordinary Arts: The Art of Self Care...

Simple, everyday pleasures are where I find the most joy. Things can get awfully busy very quickly for our family, but I've found that beauty is almost everywhere I look and I can replenish my spirit in little bits throughout my day. Here are some of the ordinary things that bring be happiness:

Fresh Flowers
Visiting Sisters
Trees Blowing in the Breeze
Hot Baths
Down Filled Pillows
Warm Blankets
Porch Swings
Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream
Babies in Stripes
Favorite Books
Sleeping Little Ones
Long Walks
Twinkle Lights
Wood in the Sunlight
White Linens
Good Blogs
A Clean House
Open Windows
Candles Flickering
Swinging at the Playground


Join in with Kyrie this week!

On the Path to the Kingdom of Heaven...

Without faith in Jesus Christ no one can return to God and enter the Kingdom of Heaven. No one, even though he believe in Jesus Christ, can regard himself to be His disciple and share His glory in Heaven if he does not act as Jesus Christ did. And no one is able to follow Jesus Christ if he does not receive help from the Holy Spirit.

To receive the Holy Spirit, we must use the means granted us by God.

We should remember that the path into the Kingdom of Heaven that has been opened to us by Jesus Christ is the only one, and there never was and never will be another path that leads to salvation. At times this path may appear difficult, but, again, you should remind yourself that this is the only one that leads toward your objective. At other times the Christian will encounter such consolations and delights on this path as can-not be found in any worldly thing. The Lord Jesus Christ assists us on this path. He gives us the Holy Spirit, He sends His angel to protect us, He provides instructors and leaders, and even He Himself takes us by the hand and leads us to salvation.

If the path into the Kingdom of Heaven seems difficult, then consider how incomparably more dreadful are the eternal torments in fiery Gehenna. If the path toward heavenly bliss seems difficult, compare it with the path toward earthly happiness, and you will see that the path toward earthly happiness is not really easier at all. Just observe how much people toil to amass earthly things, how many disappointments, fights, sleepless nights and deprivations they bear. Or remind yourself of how much effort and expenses it takes to achieve some meaningless and fleeting pleasure! And for what? Instead of the expected happiness, you are left with disappointment and weariness. When you carefully examine the heart of the matter, it becomes evident that people stay away from the Heavenly Kingdom not because the path to it is more difficult than the other paths of this world, but because it appears that way to them. Besides, the devil, an experienced and crafty deceiver, misleads people into believing that the path to salvation is difficult and the paths to perdition are easy, and he often succeeds in this.

So, my brethren, in order to avoid eternal perdition, let us definitely concern ourselves with our future. We know that beyond the grave there awaits one of the following two outcomes: either the Heavenly Kingdom or everlasting perdition in hell. There is no middle state, only everlasting bliss or everlasting torment. As there exist only two conditions past the grave, so there exist only two paths in this life. The one that seems wide and easy is taken by the majority. The other that seems narrow and thorny is taken by few. Those who follow the narrow path will be a hundredfold more happy than those who do not.

Brethren, if any of you who walk the wide path should suddenly die, what will happen to you? To whom shall you turn? To the Lord? You refuse to listen to Him now, so you must expect He will refuse to listen to you then. Now He is your merciful Father; then He will be your righteous judge. Who will defend you against His righteous rage? Ah! How frightful it is to fall into the hands of the living God! Therefore, concern yourselves now with the salvation of your soul while you still have time!

Work for your salvation while it is still daylight, for the night will come in which there will be no chance to change anything. Strive for the Heavenly Kingdom while you can still walk. Walk even a little bit, even if by crawling, but do it in the right direction. Then in eternity you will truly rejoice for every step you have taken!

May the All-merciful Lord help us all in this! Glory and thanksgiving be to Him throughout the ages of ages. Amen.

Friday, October 14

Feminine Friday: Add Classic Style to the Small Wardrobe...

Earlier this week I read an article on Small Notebook entitled Add Classic Style to the Small Wardrobe. As I have written about before, I really like having a small wardrobe. Every few months, I try to inventory what I have and over the course of the season I try to save up for one or two items to add to my wardrobe. I really enjoyed reading about the clothing and accessories that Rachel brought on her trip to Italy (she was there for winter and spring). I thought that it would be fun to list the things that I have in my cold weather wardrobe.

4-5 Long sleeve Shirts
5 Tank Tops for Layering
3 Sweaters or Cardigans

French Walnut Corduroy Trousers
Dark Mahogany Corduroy Trousers
Denim Skirt
Acorn Wool Skirt
Chocolate Wool Skirt

Rain Coat
Wool Car Coat
Wool Scarf, Hat, and Gloves

Black Boots
Rain Boots
Stockings, Tights and Warm Socks

2 Scarves: Violet and Chocolate
Handbag: Camel Leather handbag
Jewelery: Drop Earrings, Cross, Wedding Band and Engagement Ring

Things to Add:
Fleece Jacket for Chilly Mornings and Cold Evenings
Sheepskin Boots
Kitten-Heeled Mary Janes
Amber Necklace

Here are some blogs that I look to for fashion inspiration:

MaiTai's Picture Book
Cupcake Caramel
The Vivienne Files

Do you have any favorite fashion blogs? What is on your list of Autumn Must Haves?

Thursday, October 13


One of the best times of our day is bathtime. We light a few candles, turn on the taps, and let the troubles of the day sink away in lovely warm water! The children spend as much time as I will let them soaking. They play with seashells and rocks, pour "tea" for one another, practice dunking their heads under water, and on and on! Once they are good and pruny, I love wrapping my warm sweetly-smelling babies up in their hooded towels.

Our days aren't always predictable, but making time to decompress with this little ritual really makes a difference in our bedtime. I think as the next few months unfold for our family these routines will become even more important to us then they are now. I hope that as we become busier, we can try to make the time to strengthen these moments in our day for our little ones so that they can count on something remaining the same in their life.

Wednesday, October 12


Charming the Birds from the Trees is FIVE years old today! I can't believe it!

It has been wonderful getting to know all of you! Thank you for your friendship!

Tuesday, October 11

Lovely Links...

  • Button now has an amber necklace! It is from Inspired By Finn and we really like the quality!
  • Check out these red wool mittens! Martinmas, perhaps?
  • Speaking of Martinmas, aren't these lanterns beautiful? I have a lovely bit of golden wool felt tucked away that would look great as a string of lanterns. I just have to get my iron back from the church (it was used to remove wax) to press the creases.
  • We're stocking up on these beeswax votive candles again this autumn. They burn well and make the house so cozy in the evenings.
  • I really enjoyed these two posts: Add Classic Style to the Small Wardrobe and The Style Guide: Comfortably Dressy
  • I really want to eat a BLT. Right now. :)
  • Send me to the links you are enjoying right now!

    Monday, October 10

    Well, That Was Fast!

    We put in our first offer for the property, the owner countered, and we accepted within a few hours! Exciting! Thank you for your prayers!

    Sunday, October 9


    Our mission is one step closer to the beautiful fifteen acre property I mentioned a few weeks ago! Today, the parish voted unanimously to put an offer in on the home. The next few days will be busy ones... Father John and the Senior Warden have a meeting with the realtor tomorrow to sign the contact and start the process. Hopefully we will be able to get the property under contract by the 12th so that we can move on to the next step. Please keep us in your prayers!

    Friday, October 7


    Inspired by Kyrie's circle time post last week, I've been having fun coming up with a version of circle time for our family. I hope to follow Kyrie's basic outline (Don't you love her "stir, stir, stir our porridge" and how her little ones take turns doing a fingerplay on her lap?) with our little ones a few mornings a week. Since I don't have the resources she mentions in her post, I thought that I would modify ours by using stories, nursery rhymes, songs, and fingerplays that I am familiar with. Please read Kyrie's post to see the lovely way her circle time flows... I know that you will be as motivated to incorporate it into your days as I am.

    Thursday, October 6

    Happy Namesday, Father John!

    Saint Innocent of Alaska
    O Holy Father Innocent
    In obedience to the will of God
    You accepted dangers and tribulations
    Bringing many peoples to the knowledge of truth.
    You showed us the way,
    Now by your prayers help lead us into the Kingdom of Heaven.

    Wednesday, October 5

    Living and Learning: October...

    Protection of the Mother of God
    Saint Innocent

    Saint Tikhon

    Purchase Cold Weather Clothing for Everyone
    Wash and/or air out bed linens needed for colder weather
    Replace Washcloths in the the Kitchen
    Stock up on Beeswax Candles for Winter Evenings
    Continue knitting
    Make a batch of beeswax polish for wood
    Waterproof Children's Boots
    Switch from Summery Handbag to Leather One
    Thoroughly Clean Car
    Put away beach things: umbrella, blanket, towels, toys, etc.
    Create autumn menu
    Begin planning for December's feastdays and Little Man's birthday

    Sugar Plum
    Learn how to Finger Knit or Use a Knitting Tower
    Work on a Good Attitude

    Little Man

    Work on Saying Words that Start with the /L/ Sound
    Work on Listening Better

    Baby Button
    Keep this Little Guy Healthy!
    Warm Clothes!


    Daily Rhythms
    Add Circle Time to Our Mornings
    Encourage Preparation of Meals Together

    Special Days
    Fr John’s Namesday – 6th
    7th Anniversary of our Engagement – 9th

    10th Dating Anniversary -10th

    Full Hunter's Moon - 11th
    Grandfather's Namesday – 22nd

    Practice being still and quiet during services and prayers
    Practice Venerating Icons Properly
    The Sign of the Cross for Button

    Nature table scene
    Seasonal book basket

    Create an Autumn Tree Window Display
    Harvest Festival at local farm
    Encourage imaginative play by not over-scheduling our days
    Take the children to the nearby state park for nature walks
    Polish wooden toys together
    Create a toy library and donate/toss items no longer needed
    Make it a Habit to Tidy the Bedroom Every Morning
    Apple Picking
    Visit the Beach Frequently Before it Gets too Cold
    Weekly Library Trip
    Take Morning Walks
    Care for Plants and Bird Feeders
    Visit the Pumpkin Farm
    Pumpkin Day in Lieu of Halloween

    Shopping for costumes for our Saint Michael's Day celebration

    Consider a Sparkle Stories Subscription

    Saturday, October 1

    Newly Illumined...

    Our future sister-in-law was baptized today! May God Grant You Many Years, Heather Marie!
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