Sunday, August 31

Beach Days...

Our favorite time to go to the beach is on Sunday in the late afternoon.  We left our house at about 5 tonight and headed straight for a national park beach that is only 25 minutes away.  This particular beach is quite a lot bigger than the ones that we normally frequent and both Father John and I really loved the smell of the bonfires people were enjoying on the beach...  maybe we'll do that someday soon!  I bought an annual pass for this beach last week on a whim ($30 for the whole year) and really think that we will be using it frequently!

Our Little Zoo...

Two years ago, we took a trip to our little local zoo every week during the spring.  It was a pretty wonderful time.  I had hoped that we'd be able to spend some time there this past spring, but it just never happened.  In our experience, the zoo is not somewhere we want to be when school's out (It's just too hot and too crowded!). 

We worked very hard this past week on our lessons and by the time Saturday rolled around, this mama just needed to get out!  We arrived at the zoo just as it opened and enjoyed walking around during the coolest part of the day.  Whenever we go early, we can watch the zoo keepers cleaning out the cages and feeding the animals.  They are also always ready to tell us little tidbits about the animals, too!  We learned that the jaguars like to eat apples dipped in blood (ugh) and that the new little bear that had been living at the zoo is getting trained to allow sonograms in case she gets pregnant!

My goal this school year is to make it a priority to wander through our zoo at least once a month.  We learn so much while we're there (both from our conversations with people and from our observations of the animals).  There are a lot of different things that we're trying to incorporate this year in our little homeschool and I will try to write a post or two about those things soon!

Wednesday, August 27

Yarn Along: Fiona's Lace...

I'm about halfway through my Black Walnut Riverbank Cowl.  I am not normally a green yarn kind of girl, but I really like this color!  

We are reading Fiona's Lace this week.  Patricia Pollaco is such a gifted storyteller and artist!

Monday, August 25

Back to School...

To celebrate the end of our first full day of school (we finally have all of our books!), we went to a little farm shop that serves their own homemade ice cream.  Everyone chose something different to enjoy and we sat under the trees watching two little calves that live there.  Once we finished our cones, we were able to give them handfuls of grass and gentle pats (we asked first!).  

This is the first year that we have started our school year before September 1st.  We have a big parish shindig happening the second weekend in September and I have a feeling that school will be disrupted with preparations.  I only have a few housekeeping goals to accomplish before this event and as long as we are good little homeschoolers this week and next, I plan to take a day off on either side of the weekend to keep things semi-sane.  

I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to the autumn! 

At the Game...

Sunday, August 24

Simply Three...

The children and I got to see these musicians live at an outdoor concert last week and are now big fans!!

Peaceful Saturday...

I celebrated cleaning half of the windows in the house (glass inside and out, washing/ironing curtains, and cleaning the blinds) with a restful Saturday.  We had a big breakfast of waffles and then took a trip into town.  The first stop was the library to get a week's worth of books.  Next, we visited our town's museum.  Unfortunately, we couldn't take photographs inside, but it is a fancy older home that they have outfitted with beautiful furniture and portraits.  The two ladies inside gave us a nice tour and told us a lot of local history that I didn't know.  Finally, we went to a little chocolate shop and I bought a few sweets for the children and two truffles for Father John and me.

Today is a bit busier with Liturgy and a baseball game tonight with our church friends.  For now, we're enjoying The Parent Trap with our little ones.  My poor husband has never seen it before...  he's led such a deprived life!

Thursday, August 21

When Emma Met William...

A Navy Gingham Tent...

While my sister and her family were visiting a week or so ago, we worked on making tents for our little ones.  I had made the tent frame for our family around Pascha, but wanted to make a fitted tent cover to go with it.  Kate sewed up covers for our tent in navy gingham and seersucker for their family.  I drilled holes for the dowels (we used dowels that were 5/8" because that was the size of the drill bit we had) and we also bought 5/8 chair caps for the tips of the dowels which prevents them from slipping out of their holes (Thanks to a great employee at Home Depot who suggested that!).  I am so please with how this little tent turned out and the children really like playing in it!

Wednesday, August 20

Yarn Along: Riverbank Cowl...

I have been working on my Riverbank Cowl this week and it has been a pleasant knit the second time around.  The different types of stitches are very simple and it is easy to carry on a conversation with someone or watch a television show, which I really appreciate!  I cannot get enough of Kristin Lavransdatter.  I am on the last little bit of the second book (The Wife) and have spent at least an hour each night this week reading as much as I can before I fall asleep.  

Tuesday, August 19


I made the plum torte that Elizabeth mentioned on her blog a week or two ago.  Oh my!  It is delicious and really, really easy!  My children were in the church with their father and grandfather on Monday night for less than ten minutes looking at all of the improvements Father John has done since Grandfather's last visit.  I was able to mix up all the cake ingredients, pour the batter in the pan, and get more than half of the halved plums nestled in to the cake before my little ones came tumbling in to help.  

Two confessions:  

1.  I bake for stress relief.

2.  Though I want to teach my children how to bake and cook so that in the future I will live a life of leisure, I do not find the actual task of baking/cooking with little people stress relieving.

The kidlets helped me finish up and then I popped the cake into the oven to bake while I put them in bed.  We enjoyed the cake all together for breakfast this morning (alongside our eggs and bacon)!

In a nutshell, this recipe will be a staple in our summer kitchen.  It is a wonderful little cake for children to learn with and I will enjoy having a very simple dessert in my repertoire for evenings when I need a few minutes to myself!  Win!  Win!

The Shoemaker's Children...

Grandfather came to visit us yesterday and we put him right to work.  Despite the fact that we have four priests and one deacon in our extended family, we did not get our house blessed until yesterday!  Orthodox Christians get their homes blessed yearly after the feast of Theophany.  Theophany is in January.  Yes, we are the naughtiest of the naughties.  

We celebrated with a nice chicken dinner (roast chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and peas) with ice cream for dessert.  The rest of our evening was very low-key.  Little Man has figured out how to ride his bike without training wheels, so the children spent a lot of time outside riding bikes on the driveway through the woods.

I'm not sure what we will end up doing the rest of the days that Grandfather is here, but it should be a fairly relaxed visit.  We need that after the past few weeks of activity that we have had here!

Saturday, August 16

A Summer of Cakes...

Strawberry Summer Cake

Blueberry Summer Cake

Blueberry Blackberry Summer Cake

Peach Summer Cake

 One of my summer goals was to bake cakes with each of the fruits that we picked at our favorite farms and orchards during the summer months.  I used Smitten Kitchen's recipe for Strawberry Summer Cake and just modified the recipe by putting on whatever we picked.  I think that my least favorite was the strawberry...  I just don't like baked strawberries.  My favorite was peach!  I have only two little peaches left from our peach picking adventure last Sunday, but this cake was worth it! 


If we are truly concerned about the strife in the world today, let us begin by overcoming anger in our own hearts by striving for meekness and humility. If we are upset by the violence and destruction in the Middle East, let us direct our energy to bring peace to the conflicts within our own families. If we are horrified by images of human beings injuring and killing one another, let us offer an image of Christ by giving alms to those in need in our own neighborhood."

Food for My Thoughts...

My husband's hives seem like they are finally starting to get better.  They are primarily located on his legs and feet now and we are hopeful that they will soon be gone.  

Today was our parish's patronal feastday.  I spent a little time before Liturgy this morning making a Peach Summer Cake.  It was so good.  We had it with our breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, and toast and were full until dinner.  The children requested tortellini and meatballs.  My secret weapon is to grate some fresh Parmesan to mix into the meatballs and then for sprinkling on top.  The difference in taste between pre-grated Parmesan and a fresh wedge from the deli case is amazing.  I don't think that I can ever go back!

The two older children have been clearing the table (with a little help from the four-year-old!) for months now and today marked a change:  Sugar Plum is now rinsing the dishes and handing them to Little Man to put into the dishwasher.  I will probably have to oversee the process for quite awhile, but I think that this small change in our daily life will be significant.  Ideally, I would like our family to work together to clean the house room by room (see Anna's Scrubbing the Kitchen post) in the coming years.  I can imagine that there could be lots of grumpiness if I try to implement a plan like that without preparing them as little ones.  These are just some things that I'm thinking about and planning for!

Friday, August 15

Bless All the Things!

Today was Dormition!  We had Liturgy, of course, and then had a pool party with friends.  Tomorrow is our parish's feast day, so there'll be more celebrating.  Plus, we'll get to break the fast (today was a Friday, so only a fish day)...  there has been a lot of discussion about what we'll choose to eat first!

All of these gorgeous flowers, plants and herbs were blessed today after Liturgy.  I love that there are so many feasts when everyday things are blessed in the Orthodox Church.  Here are some common ones:  water and bodies of water (oceans, rivers, streams, etc.), houses, candles, vehicles, grapes, flowers, beehives and honey, fields, fishing boats, palms, cheese and eggs, meat, cattle, and on and on!
In other news, my husband is suffering from a nasty bout of hives.  We're not really sure what is causing his allergic reaction, so your prayers are appreciated!  I am hoping that it will all be cleared up quickly so that he will be more comfortable.

 Happy Weekend!

Joyous Feast!

In giving birth thou preservest thy virginity, 
In falling asleep thou did not forsake the world, O Theotokos. 
Thou wast translated to life, O Mother of Life, 
And by thy prayers, thou deliverest our souls from death.


The Learning Basket for Dormition can be found HERE.  
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