Sunday, January 31

A Wall of Windows...


Father John was scheduled to bless the house of one of the couples in our church this afternoon and they very kindly invited any parishioners who wished to attend for the blessing and a meal afterward. Their house was simply breathtaking!  It had previously been a studio for an artist and was transformed into a lovely home.  The furnishings were so lovely and unique, many from antique stores and junk shops in the area.  The fabrics that were used for the pillows, curtains, and tablecloths were such lovely colors and made from quality materials.  It is such a pleasure and inspiration to visit the home of someone who takes such care with their surroundings!

Saturday, January 30

Saturday Pursuits...

Saturday.  The day when there is time to read a bit, drink mugs of tea while they're still hot, and stare at the wax flowers gracing our table.  It's my favorite day of the week.

Friday, January 29

Its Reason for Being...

:::  photographs from last weekend's snowfall :::

Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing
than prettiness.

Mary Oliver


Wax Flowers...

I ordered an enormous bunch of delicate pink wax flowers from our local florist the other day. It was the first time that I have ever purchased them and they are enchanting!  When the stem is cut, they give off a wonderful lemony scent.  For $12, I was able to fill multiple vases around our home:  one on my bedside table, two bud vases in the children's icon corners, one bottle in the kitchen, one by the guest bathroom sink, and finally one very large vase on the mantle.  It will be a very cheery end to January and a lovely feast of The Meeting of the Lord on Tuesday!

Tuesday, January 26

The Best Potatoes...

Sugar Plum and I made some lovely potatoes for our Sunday dinner last week and are already counting down the days until we can make them again!  We simply boiled some small yellow potatoes until they were fork tender (10 to 15 minutes).  Once they were cooked, I placed them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. I gently squashed each potato with a fork, sprinkled each with some salt and pepper, and Sugar Plum placed a small bit of butter on each.  We sprinkled shredded cheddar cheese on top along with some bacon.  The tray was popped into a hot oven for a few minutes until the cheese melted and then we served them with a dollop of sour cream and some chopped green onions.  Delicious!

Monday, January 25

Living and Learning: The Week Ahead...

Kitchen, Pantry, Table
I am still tinkering with the Cranberry Cake that I made a few weeks ago.  I love the cake batter so much and decided that I would switch out the cranberries for blueberries and thought that the flavors went well together.  My next change is going to be with the topping.  I think that it will be lovely with regular streusel topping.  I'll try it this week and let you know how it goes!

Romanian photographer, Bogdan Girbovan, decided to capture how different people live in identical apartments.  I love looking at how different people choose to set up their homes and really enjoyed looking at these photos.  My favorite version of this apartment is the one on the fifth floor.  Spotting icons on many of the walls or propped up on shelves was a nice bonus in this feature! 

Father John and I were able to watch the first episode of Mercy Street last night and are looking forward to watching the second one tonight.  As you know, I love historical dramas and though the subject of this one is a little different from my usual choice in programs, I really enjoyed it!  Have a look at the preview below:

On My Bedside Table
I'm about 3/4 of the way through The Nightingale and it is a pretty good story.  It is the moving story of two sisters living in France during Nazi occupation.  There is a lot of suspense and sadness in the tale and though I cannot say that it is in my list of favorite books, I am not sorry that I am reading it.


Sunday, January 24

The Smithsonian Natural History Museum...


With about an hour before the March for Life rally began at noon, we decided to duck into the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.  We asked a gentleman at the information desk what he would recommend we see in a short period of time, and he suggested the Last American Dinosaur exhibit.  As we climbed the steps to the second floor, Sugar Plum scanned the map and spotted the Hope Diamond and  Mineral Sciences exhibits and asked if we could see them.  Since we only had a little bit of time, we decided to split up:  the boys and Papa headed to see the dinosaurs and we went to see the beautiful gems and minerals.  It was such a lovely exhibit, and though we were unable to see the Hope Diamond (it is closed for the time being), we enjoyed our time together so much!   

Saturday, January 23

The 2016 March for Life...



We, along with thousands, braved the impending blizzard bearing down on the east coast yesterday to attend the March for Life in Washington D.C.  The crowds were certainly smaller (I would estimate in the tens of thousands as opposed to the hundreds of thousands that have come in past years).  We met up with some of the Orthodox Christians that attended and Metropolitan Tikhon served a Memorial Service for the victims of abortion with the first few flurries of the the storm floating down gently.  We ended up not staying for the entirety of the March due to the weather and the fact that we had to travel several hours.  Fortunately,  the roads were pretty clear until we were about half and hour from our house.  It was wonderful to attend the March for Life and we are very thankful that we were able to make it back safely!   

Friday, January 22

The Greatest Destoyer of Love and Peace...

I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts… Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion."

Mother Teresa

Thursday, January 21

Some Information of the March for Life...

1.  Orthodox Christians coming to the March for Life this Friday in Washington, D.C. will gather at the intersection of 17th and Constitution Avenue at noon, when the pro-life rally begins. Note, this is a different location than in years past, as the stage area has been moved.

2.  If you cannot attend the March for Life, you can watch the broadcast of the rally on EWTN

3.  Dress warmly!

Wednesday, January 20

January Days...

The paperwhites bloomed earlier this week and though I have to prop them up a few times a day, they really are dear little flowers.  They are the perfect anecdote to these frosty January days.  Their heady scent is simply filling the kitchen!

Speaking of frigid temperatures, I've been making an effort to get us all outside this week and I think that the fresh air and exertion is so very good for everyone.  The children have very little trouble finding things to do for an hour or two out-of-doors, but I find that I just can't sit on the steps in the cold weather without freezing.  To keep myself warm, I've been trying to find something to do while they play.  So far I have spent time stacking firewood, sweeping, tidying the shed, bringing out garbage and recycling, and briskly walking around the woods.  We richly deserve the hot chocolate and steaming mugs of tea we enjoy when we come indoors!

Tuesday, January 19

Cream of Mushroom Soup...


Using Ina Garten's recipe as inspiration, I made a batch of Cream of Mushroom Soup on Monday that my husband loved!  Here's what I did:

2 medium onions, diced
5 oz shiitaki mushrooms (I used dried and soaked them in boiling water for a bit)
1 package of  portabello mushrooms (mine had 2 large ones)
1 package of cremini mushrooms
1 stick of butter
1 tsp of fresh thyme, minced
1/4 cup flour
5 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup of  heavy cream
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
salt and pepper

Melt butter in stock pot.  Chop onions and mushrooms.  Cook, stiring frequently, until mushrooms are browned and tender.  Sift in flour and cook for one minute.  Add one cup of chicken stock to deglaze the pot and minced thyme.  Pour in remainder of chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and allow to simmer for fifteen minutes.  Add half-and-half, cream, and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Heat through (but don't boil!)

Monday, January 18

Living and Learning: The Week Ahead...

In the Knitting Basket
I spotted the Fox Paws Scarf on Pinterest on Saturday night and now I know what I am going to knit next!  I love the colors that the original scarf is knit in...  the names of the Knit Picks yarn are so wonderful: thicket, rooibos, coriander, serpentine, and larch. 

British mysteries are hitting the spot for me right now.  There are so many to choose from and they are just perfect to watch with a bit of simple knitting and a mug of tea!   Partners in Crime was very nice (The clothes!  The interiors!) and now I am slowly working through Foyle's War.  Poirot might be the next series on my agenda.

On My Bedside Table
I just love Erin Boyle's new book, Simple Matters:  Living with Less and Ending Up with More.  I have only read a little so far, but I flipped through it and can tell that Boyle's aesthetic is right up my alley.  She has a blog that is a delight, too!

Emily Dickinson's Bedroom Renovation video was shared in one of the Facebook groups I am a member of this weekend.  I have long admired Dickinson's poetry, so seeing where she wrote was lovely.  It would be nice to visit The Homestead in person one day, but until then, I'm happy that the Emily Dickinson Museum thought to film her room for all of us to enjoy!

Kitchen, Pantry, Table
It was really hard too get back in the groove last week with school, cleaning, cooking, and the other activities that came up.  Though I really needed a break by the time Saturday rolled around, my lack of productivity over the week-end didn't really do me any favors today.  I went grocery shopping early and then whipped up a few things to get us through most of the week (macaroni and cheese, cream of mushroom soup, pulled pork, coleslaw, and chocolate chip cookies) in between lessons and laundry.  When paired with a few easy to pull together things, the dishes that I prepared should really help me feed the voracious eaters in our home for most of the week.  I think that I may try to grocery shop on Friday evenings and then do some extra cooking on Saturday.  This should make things a bit easier during the week when lessons must take priority.

The Rights of Mankind...

"Our Church has never hesitated to fight, when it felt it must, for the rights of mankind." 
-Archbishop Iakovos (the man to the left of Dr. Martin Luther King)

Sunday, January 17

Snowy Afternoon Stroll...

The First Snow...

You can't get too much winter in the winter."
-Robert Frost-

Sanctity of Life Sunday...

Proclaiming and upholding the sanctity and miracle of life is a sacred calling, one that lies at the heart of who we are as Orthodox Christians. Indeed, it is our ability to feed, clothe, visit, and minister to all of human life which will provide our defense at the dreadful and awesome second coming of our Lord.  It is a calling that involves obligations and responsibilities for the common good of all mankind, beginning with the lowest, least and weakest amongst us.  And, at the very heart of this calling is the challenge to share, in “truth and love,” the reality that human beings—in the womb, beyond the tomb, and at every point in between—reflect the glory of God.  Hence, we strive not only to work to change laws that are contrary to the teaching of our Lord, or that treat life as just another “expendable commodity,” but to purify hearts and minds to embrace the God Who is Love, Life and Existence Itself and Who invites us to become partakers of His divine nature."

-Excerpted from Metropolitan Tikhon's 2014 Sanctity of Life Sunday Letter
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