Sunday, March 31

Your Prayers...

Please pray for two families in our church:  

Genevieve, a young mother of two little children, as she travels to a faraway hospital to find out if a growth is cancerous


George and Ellen, who lost their home and car to an awful explosion and fire in the wee hours of Saturday morning

Friday, March 29

Thunder Cloud Plum Trees...

Sugar Plum made the exciting discovery today that our Thundercloud Plum trees are flowering!  These trees were planted in the late spring last year and painstakingly tended by Father John all summer and autumn.  It looked like they wouldn't make it, but all that attention must have paid off!  It is exciting to see these little buds and blooms.  I trimmed a few small branches off to force in a mason jar on our nature table.  I hope that they are a nice addition!

Thursday, March 28

Lenten Cleaning Challenge: Cull DVDs...

Somehow our dvd collection has gotten out of hand!  I've sorted through them and was able to fill a small cardboard box with lots of videos that we just don't need anymore.  Our library was happy to have them...  they used a few for their collection and some went to an area that they have for selling books, cds, and dvds.  It was great to help them out and to also lighten our load!

Wednesday, March 27

Yarn Along: Candleford Green...

Knitting my Tea Leaves has gone nicely this past week.  I am surprised at how much I accomplished!  I'm itching to wear this sweater.  There are a long line of knits that I want to cast on for before it is too warm to enjoy them and a seashore cowl tops the list! 

I've just finished Candleford Green (which is the third book in Lark Rise to Candleford) and am about to return to Everyday Saints which was put aside a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, March 26

Newly Illumined...

Our future sister-in-law was baptized yesterday! May God Grant You Many Years, Danyella Mary!

Monday, March 25

Today is the beginning of our salvation,
The revelation of the eternal mystery!
The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin
As Gabriel announces the coming of Grace.
Together with him let us cry to the Theotokos:
Rejoice, O Full of Grace,
The Lord is with Thee!


The Annunciation Learning Basket can be found HERE.

Sunday, March 24


For Lady Adelaide, Sir Timothy's wife, the footman usually did business while she sat in her carriage outside, but occasionally she herself would come rustling in, bringing with her a whiff of perfume, and sink languidly down in the chair provided for customers on their side of the counter.  She was a graceful woman, and it was a delight to watch her movements.  Laura, who sat behind her in church, admired the way she knelt for the prayers, not plumping down squarely with one boot-sole on each side of a substantial posterior , as most women of her age did, but slanting gracefully forward with the sole of one dainty shoe in advance of the other.  She was tall and thin and, Laura thought, aristocratic-looking."

 Flora Thompson

Friday, March 22


When we took our lacy snowflakes down this week in preparation for spring, I knew that I wanted to put up something to replace them.  I remembered that we had made butterflies out of catalog pages a few years ago, and thought that would be perfect!  These little butterflies are super easy to make and so pretty! I plan on keeping them up for spring AND summer! 

Thursday, March 21

Lenten Cleaning Challenge: Organize Craft Supplies...

One of the things that can quickly get out of hand in our house are the craft supplies.  Now that Sugar Plum and I are knitters, we have even more to keep tidy.  Your challenge today is to sift through your crafting goodies, decide what stays and what goes, and organize your space!  Don't spend too much time on this task.  Set the timer for 10 or 15 minutes and do the best you can!

Wednesday, March 20

Yarn Along: Over to Candleford...

Though this picture looks cheerful, it was not a good week for knitting.  I knit furiously finish the last 2-and-a-half inches so that I could divide for the sleeves on my Tea Leaves Cardigan only to find that I had misread the pattern and one side was enormous (as in 50 stitches were added to each row).  Thankfully I had the presence of mind to go to the knitting shop for advice and frogging help (or else, I would have just ripped everything out and started again...  which would have been the end for this cardi.).  Monika got me back on track and I am mostly over having to frog a week's worth of work.  The bright side is that each row takes much less time since it is now the right size! 

I have two chapters left in Over to Candleford (which is the second book in Lark Rise to Candleford) and am really enjoying it!  The little ones and I finished all of the Ramona books last week, so now we are listening to the Henry Huggins books and are all enjoying them so much! 

Tuesday, March 19

Happy Namesday, Button!

We kicked off Great Lent with our littlest one's Name's Day yesterday!  Though it was a more subdued Name's Day than usual, we still celebrated with a nice dessert (peach blueberry crisp) and a few little gifts.  Next up is Father John's birthday on the 21st!

Monday, March 18

On the First Day of Great Lent...

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant. 

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen.

The Lenten Prayer of Saint Ephrem


 The Great Lent Learning Basket can be found HERE.

Sunday, March 17

Forgive Me a Sinner... 

As today is Forgiveness Sunday, I would like to ask you to please forgive me for any offense that I have cause you. I hope that you have a blessed Lenten season.

Saturday, March 16

Ten Tips for Great Lent...

1. Regardless of how you fast, fast every single day. This type of fasting helps wear down the passions and build spiritual endurance.

2. Know exactly what the fasting regulations are and try to approximate them as best you can. Each Lent, try to be more strict yet humble.

3. Particular concerns about fasting? Age, health issues, never fasted before, mixed-marriages? Speak with your priest.

4. Be sure to recite the Lenten prayer of Saint Ephraim. If you cannot make prostrations just make bows or cross yourself.

5. On weekends, we do not make prostrations and our fasting is slightly relaxed since Saturday and Sunday are holy days.

6. The Lenten services and tones are offered only during the week –
strive to participate as much as possible in these services and the spirit of lent will rub off on you.

7. Sports and outdoor activities are not contrary to the Lenten spirit.

8. Strive to avoid going to movies, parties, vacations, and other entertainments. This we do so we can have more time to devote to spiritual things.

9. Confession and Holy Communion are central to securing the benefits of Lent. Without fail, we should receive the Sacraments during the period of Great Lent.

10. Be mindful of what we look at and how much time we spend on TV and computer. Some give up TV for all of Lent. Others strictly limit their time and watch only educational and news programs. Surfing on the web? Hit the theological sites.

Friday, March 15

Preparing for Great Lent: Lent and Little Ones...

Counting Down:  In the past, we've used different calendars to countdown until Pascha:  Jessica's Orthodox Christian Craft Supply's Magnetic Calendar, and our butterfly calendar.  I found a new idea on Rhythm of the Home's Spring Edition:  A Visual Journey Through Lent.  I'll adapt it to fit Orthodoxy and I think that I will try to figure out how to move the cross from stone to stone to create a countdown.  We'll also be using the guide that came with our Magnetic Calendar since it was so very good!

Planning Ahead:  With Western Easter falling so much earlier than Pascha, I will be trying to plan ahead.  We'll need to buy our plastic eggs for our egg hunt, Paschal outfits need to be sorted out, and we have to get some delicious Paschal candies.  Hopefully much of this will be on sale!  Also, we've begun to save onion skins so that we can dye our eggs red naturally this year.  I also need to replenish our battery operated candle stash for the nights when the faithful hold candles in church and the little ones don't want to be left out.  We'll be sprouting wheat grass again this year on Palm Sunday and we'll also need to order our Paschal Candle!

Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving:  We are going to work on three things daily this Great Lent: prayer (by learning a short prayer by heart), fasting (by placing one favorite food- one per child- into a basket each day and then emptying the basket in our church's food pantry box each Sunday before Liturgy), and almsgiving (by adding coins to a bank each day and emptying them into our church's poor box each Sunday before Liturgy). These are all simple ideas that I am hoping that I can follow through on that will hopefully help our little ones these next six or seven weeks.

I would love to hear about anything that you are doing with your little ones this holy time of year.

Also, if you are not Orthodox and are wondering what I am talking about, you can learn about Great Lent here and find out why Orthodox Christians fast, here.

Thursday, March 14

Preparing for Great Lent: Lenten Cleaning...

A kitchen at Mount Vernon

 For the past several Great Lents, I have made plans to deep clean our home and that has worked out pretty well for us!  This Lent, however, I'd like to change things a bit for our family.  I would like to begin a habit of weekly cleaning.  Since moving in  our home last December, I have not had a weekly cleaning schedule.  Instead, I have opted to clean the house each time we have guests.  I would frantically clean like a maniac before people arrive, cook and play hostess for the time that they stayed and then drop from exhaustion once they left, watching the house slide into a grimy existence until the next guests arrived (usually two weeks later).

I think that it would be better for us all for me to get back to what I have done in the past:  clean a little each day.  I am hopeful that this will ease the burden that cleaning house has become.  I am also hopeful that I will be better able to include the children in cleaning routines.  When I've had to rush around cleaning under the gun, it has made for many tense moments and Mama is often cross on those days! 

Here is my plan (based on the layout of our home):

Sunday:  Day of Rest (ha!)
Monday:  Bathrooms and Wash Towels
Tuesday:  Bedrooms and Wash Sheets
Wednesday:  Hallway, Entrance, and Living Room
Thursday:  Kitchen and Dining Room
Friday: Alternate Cleaning the Playroom, the Office, the Laundry Room, and the Sunroom
Saturday:  Sweep the Porch, Fill Birdfeeders, Clean the Birdbath, and Water Indoor Plants

I am hopeful that if I can keep up with the daily cleaning during Great Lent, it will become a habit that keeps up long after.  Do you have a Lenten Cleaning Plan that you are going to follow?

Wednesday, March 13

Yarn Along: Almost Over to Candleford...

I am two and a half inches away from dividing for the sleeves on my Tea Leaves Cardigan and I am two chapters away from finishing the first book in Lark Rise to Candleford.  I also downloaded Chic &Slim Connoisseur for free using the Kindle App on my phone yesterday (the book is able to be downloaded for free for only these two days), but probably won't get to it for awhile!  What are you knitting and reading?

Tuesday, March 12

Preparing for Great Lent: Lenten Meals...

Orthodox Christians abstain from different foods during fasting periods. Though I have been Orthodox for most of my life (my parents converted when I was three), I still find it hard to plan, shop for, and cook fasting meals. Here is the general dinner rotation for this Great Lent:

Sunday: Seafood
Monday: Soup
Tuesday: Mexican
Wednesday: Soup and Sandwiches
Thursday: Veggie Burgers
Friday: Salad
Saturday: Pasta

I know that there will be overlap (pasta salad, anyone?), but I am hoping that this will help motivate me in the kitchen. I will also be making bread each day (Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day) and keeping vegetables, fruits, fresh banana or pumpkin bread, hummus/babaganoush, pretzels, popcorn, and nuts around. 

Our children will not be fasting from dairy like Father John and I do, so I will be stocking things that they will eat for breakfast and lunch:  homemade muffins, eggs (for hardboiled and fried), yogurt, cheese, tasty crackers, dip for veggies, bread and sliced cheese to make grilled cheese or mini pizzas, quesadilla fixings etc.

We will also be resuming our weekly trips to the Farmer's Market in our town this Friday.  As Spring comes, the offerings will be more abundant and will make fasting a bit easier.  I also take occasional trips to a gourmet market nearby and purchase calamata olives and other fancier things that we can't buy at our regular store. 

What is your fasting plan?

Monday, March 11

Preparing for Great Lent: Our Lenten Candle...

This past Christmas I was given this gorgeous glass candle holder and instantly knew that I wanted to use it for a Lenten centerpiece this year.  I admire the wooden spirals that many families use in their Lenten journey, but wanted something a little more compact for our dining room table.  I purchased a beeswax candle and we are eagerly awaiting the start of the fast (March 18th this year) to start using it.  I'd like to light it right after Forgiveness Vespers on Sunday night, just before the little ones come in from church.  I hope that the candle will be all used up by the time Pascha comes...  then we'll have our pretty egg candle to use at meal times!

Sunday, March 10


The Blacksmith at Work - From our trip to Mount Vernon in January
One of Laura's earliest memories was of her grandfather coming through the gate and up the end house garden in his old-fashioned close-fitting black overcoat and bowler hat, his beard nicely trimmed and shining with a huge vegetable marrow under his arm.  He came every morning and seldom came empty-handed.  He would bring a little basket of early raspberries or green peas, already shelled, or a tight little bunch of sweet williams and moss rosebuds, or a baby rabbit, which some one else had given him - always something.  He would come indoors, and if anything in the house was broken, he would mend it, or he would take a stocking out of his pocket and sit down and knit, and all the time he was working he would talk in a kind, gentle voice to his daughter, calling her 'Emmie.'  Sometimes she would cry as she told him her troubles, and he would get up and smooth her hair and wipe her eyes and say, 'That's better!  That's better!  Now you're going to be my own brave little wench!  And remember, my dear, there's One above who knows what's best for us, though we may not see it ourselves at the time.'"

Flora Thompson

Wednesday, March 6

Saint Matthew Passion...

I mentioned that we were planning on listening to Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyey's Saint Matthew Passion in my Living and Learning post for March.  Though I have posted it before, now YouTube has it to listen to.  Enjoy!

Yarn Along: Lark Rise...

I began knitting my Tea Leaves Cardigan on March 1st (in Madelinetosh Vintage Yarn in the colorway Rainwater)!  It's coming along nicely (even though I did frog it once because I didn't like how some of the stitches were coming out).  I hope to be done with the yoke this week, but I am already shocked at how slow-going a sweater for an adult (and a pretty big one at that!) is going.  Oh well!  Maybe my sister is right...  I need to have a few projects on the needles at all times!

I am now reading Lark Rise to Candleford.  I must admit that I am watching more television and movies than usual because we give up watching things during Great Lent (which begins on March 18th for us).  I often watch something while I knit, and I wonder if reading will take precedence during Great Lent and then my knitting will fall by the wayside a bit.  We shall see!  I am hoping to be able to finish my sweater by the end of March!

Tuesday, March 5

Today I am 33!

Living and Learning: March...

Prodigal Son
40 Martyrs of Sebaste

Sunday of the Last Judgement
Forgiveness Sunday 
Saint Patrick 
Saint Nikolai Velimirovich
Sunday of Orthodoxy

Saint Gregory Palamas

Take down winter decor and slowly replace with spring things
Follow Lenten Cleaning Schedule

Enjoy Daffodils and Shamrocks
Work on making a filling lenten dinners for our noon meal

Birthday Thank you notes
Plan Button's namesday celebration
Plan Father John's birthday celebration
Prepare for Pascha
Organize Sugar Plum's Pascha egg necklace
Plan Pascha outfits
Plan Spring wardrobes
Think about container gardening this spring and summer
Order Pascha candle

Knit my Tea Leaves Cardigan
Read Lark Rise to Candleford
Read Everyday Saints


Begin building in more outdoor time on fine days... consider bringing life outside (meal times, reading, play, cleaning, etc.)

Special Days
Mama’s Birthday (5th)
Grandmama and Grandpapa’s Anniv. (16th)
Button's Namesday (18th)
Grandma Daria’s Namesday (19th)
Papa’s Birthday (21st)
Grandma Judy’s Birthday (25th)

Full Lenten Moon (27th)
Aunt Jenny’s Birthday (30th)

Practice patience and love towards one another
Tidy bedrooms each morning
Practice Being Still and Quiet during Prayers and Services
Learn the Prayer of Saint Ephraim

The Sign of the Cross for Button 
Lark Buns for the feast of the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste
Lenten Lilies - Daffodils!
Festal Learning basket for Annunciation
Rainbows - Roy G. Biv
Shamrocks and Clover
"March Comes in Like a Lion and Out Like a Lamb"
Learning How to Put Away Laundry
Nature table scene and book basket
Use Glob Paints
Make a rainbow of playdough
Play with Modeling Beeswax
Butterfly Lenten Calendar
Magnetic Lenten Calendar

Listen to Saint Matthew Passion by Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev 
Tidying up Toys after Play
Clearing the Table after Meals

Complete the Ramona Series
Nature Table Scene
Winter Book Basket
Watercolor Pencils

Feed birds
Polish wooden toys together
Weaving with Sugar Plum
Knitting Fork with Little Man

Sunday, March 3


You understand Teacher, don’t you, that when you have a mother who’s an angel and a father who is a cannibal king, and when you have sailed on the ocean all your whole life, then you don’t know just how to behave in school with all the apples and ibexes."

Astrid Lindgren

Friday, March 1

Naughty, Naughty!

It was just one of those days here!  A certain little person attacked my dried hydrangea arrangement and tore the cover off of our nice new book.  Boo!  Fortunately, everything was easily set to rights...  I turned the massacred side of the flowers to the wall and a little tape mended the book.  I wish that all things could be fixed that easily!

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