Thursday, December 31

Seven Swans-a-Swimming...

 I found out this morning that Netflix has several short New Years Eve countdowns for little ones that can be played anytime that families want, so we threw together a party for our family after Vespers tonight.  A box of chocolates, some meat and cheese, apple, crackers, and sparkling apple cider makes for a lovely little celebration!  It was so much fun to countdown, cheer, and clink glasses together! 

Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 30

Six Geese-A-Laying...

We're home safely from our little getaway.  Once we were back, I went to the market for some groceries and also bought some paperwhite and amaryllis bulbs (how did I forget to get those this year?) and a several bags of cranberries (one for another cranberry cake and two for the freezer... those cold, dark days in January are coming). Tomorrow is going to be a nice quiet day:  books, puzzles, new toys, and games.  It will be good to relax!

Tuesday, December 29

Five Golden Rings...

ama was back from her errands and had brought the news that the Christmas tree Mr. Ryan had promised her would be there by Monday. It was exciting to think about, the fragrance of the spruce filling the house, trimming it with the chains of paper and popcorn, the stars and the candles. What a lovely light they would make. Lili could hardly wait."

The Lion in the Box
Marguerite De Angeli
So far, this little Christmas trip hasn't worked out like we had planned.  Still, it has been joyful.  Button is much better, we were able to visit Baba, and though the car we were supposed to bring home to my brother-in-law broke down fifteen minutes into the trip, it happened when we could still be rescued by family easily and with minimal fuss.  Once again, I am reminded that it is a wonderful thing that Christmas is not just one day.  There are twelve days to get all the celebrating done, which means that it is not the end of the world if one day gets a little too adventurous!

Monday, December 28

Four Colly Birds...



And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans - and all that lives and moves upon them.  He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused - and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself."
Sigrid Undset


Our fourth day of Christmas started out so well with a trip to the bagel store for breakfast with Grandfather Bear and some of the aunties and cousins.  I had my usual:  an everything bagel with pork roll and cheese.  If you are not from New Jersey, you probably don't know what pork roll is, but it is so yummy.  

We had a few little errands to run before leaving for a family Christmas party in Brooklyn, but while we were out and about, Button started feeling hot and sick.  Within an hour, it was pretty clear that we weren't going to be going to the party.  It was really disappointing, but as the day has worn on, he has gotten worse.  I'm glad that we didn't risk getting other people sick at the party.  He's still burning up, but after sleeping nearly seven hours during the day, he is now watching a little television while I type this. 

Father John's grandmother is not doing too well, so we drove up to her area to see if he could see her before we come home on Wednesday.  We left Grandfather Bear's ahead of a winter storm  and are ensconced in a hotel while we wait out this virus (and hope that no one else falls sick).  We'll see what the weather does overnight, but it sounds like there will be at least a little snow when we wake up.  God willing, at least one or two of us will be able to give Baba our love tomorrow.   

Three French Hens...

But the fact that Christmas Day falls in the dreariest time of the year, highlights its impact.  We are usually in the grip of winter's cold, early darkness, frost, and snow, and all the ills that they bring.  Doubly precious, therefore, are our domestic comforts - a blazing fire, sustaining food, the comfort of friends and, at the end of the day, a warm bed"

Miss Read
Forward of A Country Christmas


We participated in a little Christmas pageant today after Liturgy and it was wonderful.  We used a very simple script that a parishioner had written for a different parish and created costumes that we had on hand from our dress up collections and recycling bins.  The result was so beautiful!  The children took it very seriously and the parish really liked the performance!

On Saturday night, I whipped up Ina Garten's delicious cranberry apple cake before Vespers.  I had seen a few people baking it for their Christmas festivities and it looked like something that would be wonderful for coffee hour, so I saved a cup-and-a-half  of cranberries from our cranberry starfruit garland to use in the cake. I had a little sliver of it last night while I watched the Call the Midwife Christmas Special and it was very tasty .  I imagine that it would be just the ticket with a mug of tea on a cold winter morning.  I brought this one to coffee hour, but I'll make another as soon as I can!

Saturday, December 26

Two Turtle Doves...

Annie's addition to the household was certainly a blessing, as Miriam soon discovered.  By the time she arrived on Tuesday morning, Miriam had put Eileen and Lovell's bedroom to rights, had changed sheets, put out fresh soap and towels, and even found a few sprigs of yellow winter jasmine to put in a little vase by Eileen's bed."

No Holly for Miss Quinn
Miss Read


It was a nice quiet second day of Christmas!  We slept in a little and had a nice breakfast, before spending most of the day outside.  The children each received a bow and arrow set and I think that it was their favorite gift!  They borrowed a saw horse from the shed and tied an old throw-away pan to it to it to use as a bulls eye.  They are really getting good, but their little fingers are sore from shooting!

I saw someone on Instagram stringing cranberries and dried starfruit for their birds and I decided to copy them.  It was such a fun activity to do this afternoon!  We also hung up the dried oranges and greenery that adorned a parcel of surprise presents sent from my friend, Ira.  It looks so festive outside our dining room window!  I think that we have a new tradition to enjoy every year!


Friday, December 25

A Partridge in a Pear Tree...

The lighted crib glowed in the shadowy chancel like the star of Bethlehem itself, and the aromatic smell of the evergreens added to the spirit of Christmas.  Later, the bells would ring out and the winter sunshine would touch the flowers and silver on the altar with brightness.  All would be glory and rejoicing, but there was something particularly lovely and holy about these quiet early morning devotions, and the two sisters prefered to  attend then, knowing that the rest of the morning would be taken up with the cheerful ritual of Christmas Day cooking."

Village Christmas
Miss Read 


Christ is Born!  Glorify Him!

I hope that you had a very happy Christmas Day!  We had a lovely one.  Father John and I woke the children early in the morning before Liturgy to open stockings as a family and it was so sweet to watch them start pulling out the first little treasures with sleepy eyes and by the end, a few minutes later, be bright and bushy-tailed with excitement!

We feasted late in the day with some of our extended family which was 'perfection,' as Button would say.  Dinner was happy and good with no cooking mishaps (phew!).  Look at the flowers on the table!  They are silver dollar eucalyptus and Mikado spray roses and, in combination with the silver vase and beeswax candles, are exactly what I was hoping for.  

I am ending this first day of Christmas with a little toasted Christmas bread with loads of butter and a viewing of Little Women.  I am already dreaming of our breakfast of bacon and eggs with the lights of the tree glowing nearby!

Christ is Born!

Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, 

has shone to the world the light of wisdom! 

For by it, those who worshiped the stars 

were taught by a star to adore Thee, the Sun of Righteousness 

and to know Thee, the Orient from on high. 

O Lord, glory to Thee!

Thursday, December 24

Christmas Eve...

The last few hours of Christmas Eve were spent in our still kitchen preparing foods for our meals on Christmas Day.  It is rare for me to not be listening to anything or talking on the phone while I work, but with everyone else fast asleep, it was necessary to work in silence. I was able to finish up my to do list so that I would wake up on Christmas morn ready to share the feast and those quiet hours were just what I needed to also prepare myself.  I love Christmas and am so happy that it is twelve days long!

Wednesday, December 23

Monasteries as Satellites...

My husband recently finished the first video in a series that he prepared for Holy Archangels Monastery!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 22

Prettying Up the Porch...

We have space on either side of the house doors which is where we line up muddy boots and a basket of balls, plus any other odds and ends that come with a busy family.  Sadly, it is often a dumping ground and it drives me crazy!  

Tidying and sweeping the porch was on the agenda today, but I took it one step further and made one side as nice as I could.  I love outside lights and really wanted to make the effort this year.  We did a simple strand of lights round the door frame of the church and another round the doors into the house.  My husband had the brilliant idea to put them both on a timer so that we wouldn't have to fuss with turning them off and on. 

 I added a small table that we had with a huge pinecone and a container of dried flowers (I originally had a vase with holly and water, but we were worried that it would freeze and break).  I really wanted a potted tree, so I dug a baby one from the woods and covered the dirt with some moss I peeled up from the church grounds.  Finally, I stuck the tail end of the lights into the house lantern.  I really like how it turned out!  It is cheerful and wintery and I keep sneaking outside to look at it!

Sunday, December 20

With Eyes Brighter Than the Sun...

When you are praying alone, and your spirit is dejected, and you are wearied and oppressed by your loneliness, remember then, as always, that God the Trinity looks upon you with eyes brighter than the sun; also all the angels, your own Guardian Angel, and all the Saints of God. Truly they do; for they are all one in God, and where God is, there are they also.  Where the sun is, thither also are directed all its rays. Try to understand what this means."

Saint John of Kronstadt

The Great Sunday Tree Hunt...


Today was the Sunday that we went to pick out the Christmas tree!  I dragged everyone to a tree farm 40 minutes away only to drive back home to pick up one from a nearby tree lot.  I was really enamored with the idea of wandering through a Christmas tree farm and cutting down something that was both fresh and fragrant, but there were only little baby trees left.  The one that we did end up with is pretty spectacular, though.  I needed to buy new lights for the tree this year, and went with one strand of micro lights, one strand of lights with medium-sized faceted bulbs, and one strand with large bulbs.  Our tree looks amazing with multitude of twinkle lights on it and I am so happy with the result!

Friday, December 18

The Twelve Days of Christmas...

We love celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas in our family and this year I have started to plan some simple ways to make each day extra special.  In addition to these fun activities, we will be listening to our copy of Martin & Sylvia's Twelve Days of Christmas Story Collection from Sparkle Stories.  Though I've numbered the activities below, I'm just going to take each day as it comes after Christmas Day and pick what works with what we're up to.

1.  Christmas Day
2.  Winterfest of Lights or Car Ride to Look at Lights
3.  Milkshakes
4.  Open a New Christmas book
5.  Cookie Baking
6.  Christmas for the Birds
7.  Breakfast Out
8.  Ice Skating
9.  Create Gingerbread Houses
10.  Little Women Viewing
11.  Bubble Bath
12.  New Calendars

Thursday, December 17


Eggs crack.  Butter pops in a hot pan.  Her father is telling an abridged story of their flight, train stations, fearful crowds, omitting the stop in Evreux, but soon all of Marie-Laure's attention is absorbed by the smells blooming around her:  egg, spinach, melting cheese.
  An omelet arrives.  She positions her face over its steam.  "may I please have a fork?"
  The old woman laughs: a laugh Marie-Laure warms to immediately.  In an instant a fork is fitted into her hand.
   The eggs taste like clouds.  Like spun gold.  Madame Manec says, "I think she likes it," and laughs again.
  A second omelet soon appears.  Now it is her father who eats quickly.
"How about peaches, dear?" murmurs Madame Manec, and Marie-Laure can hear a can opening, juice slopping into a bowl.  Seconds later, she's eating wedges of wet sunlight."

Anthony Doerr

Wednesday, December 16

Christmas Feasting...

I finalized our Christmas menu today.  We'll be enjoying all of our favorite feasting dishes, including a Christmas bread (which is the Pascha bread recipe styled after the gorgeous loaf that features prominently on the Christmas breakfast table in the 1994 film version of Little Women).  I would love to hear what you are planning to serve for your Christmas Day festivities!

After Liturgy Nibbles
 Ham Sandwiches on Tiny Rolls
Vegetable Platter with Bacon Ranch Dip
Sausage, Cheese, and Crackers

Roasted Turkey
Mashed Potatoes*
Cranberry Sauce
Christmas Bread and Butter 

Christmas Cookies 
Christmas Chocolate 
*Made by my mother-in-law

Tuesday, December 15

All is Bright...


After four years, we finally hung curtains up in the playroom.  Though they are a bit old-fashioned looking, I like that the lace still lets in plenty of light but gives us a bit more privacy.  The room feels a little different now, but the over-all effect is nice!

I've done almost all of my Christmas shopping online this year and it has made things much easier.  The mailman has been busy bringing me parcels and as they arrive, I have been wrapping things and stowing pretty packages in the nooks and crannies in our bedroom closet.  It has been a lot more relaxing than in past years.

We are planning to get our Christmas tree on Sunday and will try to go to a local tree farm and cut a fresh one.  I cannot wait!  Father John always decorates our tree so nicely (we trade off when it is time to put the ornaments away) and this year I plan to have more twinkle lights than ever before!  
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...