Thursday, March 31

Back to the Needles...

I knit more than a few stitches on the cowl I'm working on for the first time in weeks!  It felt good to get back in saddle and work on something with my hands.  Once I finish this this project, I'll be casting on to a Baptismal blanket for our little niece who is due on June 12th (our eleventh wedding anniversary!)! 

Wednesday, March 30

Busier Than it Was Supposed to Be...

Great Lent has been busier than I envisioned it being on Forgiveness Sunday.  The biggest challenge is that we have embarked on a painting project in the church (which I am very excited about!  What we had was not working)...  we are a week in and hope to finish the main color painting (saving faux marble painting and other hand painted designs for later).  So far, we have succeeded in selecting several of the colors we plan to use.  There will be a few more color decisions to make tomorrow (hopefully!) and in truth, I find this part of the process incredibly tedious.  

The painting project, along with lessons, classes outside of our home, deep cleaning, etc., have made things a bit crazy.  One of the ways that I am coping is to indulge in some lengthy reading every day.  Very uncharacteristically, I have two books I'm working on right now:  Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins and Middlemarch (which I am listening to on my phone while I clean and knit).  I am attempting to read 52 books this year and am off to a good start!  It is nice to keep a record of what I have read...  I might do this for my knitting projects, too! 

Saint Nicholai of Zicha...

Our fourth saint figured painted by  Sue Dow of In the Loft  arrived this past week and we are so pleased!  My saint's figure (Saint Emilia) will be the final patron saint we will commission...  I am already planning the next set of figures we will order.  I know that the Mother of God will be one of the first!

Monday, March 28

The Trees Began to Whisper...


The trees began to whisper, and the wind began to roll,
 and in the wild March-morning I heard them call my soul.

Alfred Lord Tennyson 

Sunday, March 27

Living and Learning: The Week Ahead...

On My Bedside Table
As I mentioned last week, I just finished Jane Eyre and loved it.  Imagine my surprise when I saw an article in the Sunday edition of the New York Times about a new biography, Charlotte Bronte:  A Fiery Heart.  I am so looking forward to reading it!

A few years ago I saw a short documentary on a Romanian pysanky artist and enjoyed it even more last night when I saw it after having my own first experience with decorating pysanky eggs.  Have a look:

 Keeping Home
Our attic just makes me want to scream.  After we moved in to the rectory, we discovered that the previous owners had left it full of garbage and every few months I go up and struggle to drag out a few things to throw out.  There is always too much to fit into the dumpsters and I have to stop working until they are emptied a week or two later.  Along with all of the junk, the things that we have stored up there have gotten disorganized and out of control.  I am determined to empty the attic of all rubbish before the summer and this weekend my sister, Juliana, helped me take a huge step in that endeavor.  She was down for an overnight and we decided to reorganize all of the stored bins of clothing that we pass around to all of the cousins.  Once we were finished, we had one bin of clothing for each gender and each size.  While we were putting the bins upstairs I took some time to get our stored items straightened out.  Now all that is left to do is continue with my plans to get rid of all of the garbage.  It will take some time, but I am excited to have this huge task checked off of my to do list!

Grantchester is back on Masterpiece Mystery and I'm watching the first episode as I type this!

Orthodox Home
With Easter over a month before Pascha, don't forget to purchase special candy, plastic eggs, and other Paschal things before it's gone from the shops!  Hopefully you 'll be able to take advantage of some good discounts, too!

Saturday, March 26


Yesterday was an exciting day.  After Liturgy for Annunciation, we gathered together for a festal lunch and a workshop on making pysanky.  One of our parishioners has been creating eggs for over twenty years and was able to give all of us- children included- first rate instruction.  I think that all of us left with the desire to create more pysanky eggs.  I can definitely say that Sugar Plum and I were bitten by the pysanky bug and we are already looking forward to decorating our next eggs!

Lenten Cleaning: In the Bedroom...

I try to deep clean our home as much as I am able during the weeks when we fast. I find that it is really wonderful to enjoy having everything clean and organized for the Great Feasts of the year. I plan on breaking my cleaning up by cleaning one room or area each week of the Fast (there are seven weeks). For the second week of Lent, I focused on the bedrooms. I also tried to keep up with my regular daily cleaning and laundry routines as much as possible so that the bedrooms weren't spotless, while the rest of the house looked like a war zone with naked children running around!

Clean out the dressers in your bedroom.  Wash the mirror and dust everything.

Tuesday's challenge is to clean out the bedside tables in your bedroom(s), clean under the bed, and (if needed) flip and rotate the mattress(es).

Wash curtains, blinds, and windows.

Clean the closet.


Friday Finish cleaning the closet.

Dust and clean any picture frames, decorations, and surfaces you missed during the week. Clean the ceiling fan (if you have one!). Dust the baseboards and check for spiderwebs in the corners of the room.

Friday, March 25

Joyous Feast!

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 Festal Learning Basket for Annunciation can be found HERE
Note:  The above work is part of The Annunciation by Mikhail Nestrov.

Monday, March 21

Living and Learning: The Week Ahead...

Church in the Home
We're working through the second week for our Lenten Cleaning Challenge and are tackling the bedrooms.  I'm posting a daily challenge on Instagram and in the Facebook group Orthodox Home.  Come and join us!

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, our local libraries in our area are participating in The Big Read for the month of March, and the book we're studying is The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson.  We enjoyed a play on Dickenson's life first and this week the children and I will be attending a performance of music from the time period in which she lived.  I am looking forward to it and think our recent experience of the symphony to see Peter and the Wolf will help the children appreciate it, too!

On My Nightstand
I finished reading Jane Eyre (and listening to the audio book version) on Saturday night and have been utterly bereft ever since.  I had intended it to be just a novel that I enjoyed, but ultimately it was a very religious read for me and one that I can foresee revisiting it during many future Lenten periods. 

Living Well
I went back to the antique shop for the bread plates that matched the china I bought with my birthday money.  All sixteen plates are now nestled in the dish cabinet at the ready.  I like opening up the door and spying them all stacked up there waiting for their Paschal debut.    

In the Kitchen
I realized (while in the bath last night) that I have not begun to save onion skins for the red Pascha eggs yet.  Quelle horreur!  I now have a bag dedicated to those precious bits and will be collecting them from now on...  I may even start checking the onion bins at the market for loose ones to tuck into the bags of onions we buy.

Saturday, March 19

Lenten Cleaning: In the Bathroom...

I try to deep clean our home as much as I am able during the weeks when we fast. I find that it is really wonderful to enjoy having everything clean and organized for the Great Feasts of the year. I plan on breaking my cleaning up by cleaning one room or area each week of the Fast (there are seven weeks). For the first week of Lent, I focused on the bathrooms. I also tried to keep up with my regular daily cleaning and laundry routines as much as possible so that the bathrooms weren't spotless, while the rest of the house looked like a war zone with naked children running around!

Medicine Cabinet

Cabinets and Drawers

Wash curtains, windows, and shower curtain (or glass shower doors)

Linen closet and light fixtures

Dust and clean any picture frames, decorations, bottles, jars, soap dishes/dispensers. Clean out the bath toys (discard broken ones, clean the container that you keep them in, etc.). Dust the baseboards and check for spiderwebs in the corners!

Garbage can

The Springtime Zoo...


For the second week in a row, we spent a some time at our little zoo.  I love being there in the cool of early spring.  The mornings are quiet and peaceful and the animals are usually active and interested in our attentions.  Our zoo has so many lovely trees (many of which flower) that cast shade over the paths and make for an interesting walk.  With our frequent visits, we can observe the awakening of nature after winter...  it is such a glorious time of year!

Friday, March 18

Our Namesday Boy...

Happy Namesday to our dear Button!  We love you Sweet Boy!
It was a wonderful day for our favorite five-year-old.  The highlight for him was that he got to share his chocolate cake with all of his church friends after PreSanctified Liturgy tonight!      


Carl Sandberg
The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Tuesday, March 15

Blue and White...

A few months ago I started to think a lot about blue and white dishes and how nice they look on a festive table.  When I was growing up, my mother had a set of blue and white Finlandia dishes that were her favorite things in the china cabinet and we used them for Pascha and other special occasions.  I had a little birthday money in my pocketbook this month and decided that I really, really wanted to start looking in earnest, so while the children were having their violin lesson, I began the search in the antique stores in our little town.  

I visited three shops on Friday and ended up returning to the first shop on Monday afternoon to buy the blue and white dishes that I came across in the very beginning of my search.  I am so happy with my choice.  The pattern is Burgenland by Villeroy & Bosh.  There are eight dinner plates (plus eight bread plates that are on hold for me to purchase in a week or two) which is exactly what I was hoping for!  I think that they will go very nicely with our everyday white dishes and will dress up the table when we want to make a bit of a splash.  I enjoyed hand-washing them so much last night and the children ate their meals on them today.  I am already dreaming of our Pascha table setting! 

Monday, March 14

Living and Learning: The Week Ahead...

Orthodox Home
Lent is here and with it comes grumpy children, a grumbling tummy, and more time on my hands.  I've started a Facebook group called Orthodox Home and we've begun a Lenten Cleaning Challenge there.  You're welcome to join in!  Just send me a FB message (Mamabird Emma) and I will add you!

Saint Patrick's Day always brings me back to my college days when I was a waitress in an Irish Pub.  We'd have live bands performing the classics like Danny Boy, Drunken Sailor, Black Velvet Band.  These days, I feel the need to listen to my favorite Celtic artists Enya and Loreena McKennett the minute March rolls around.

I fell down a rabbit hole a few nights ago and came across this inspiring video of a Romanian spoon carver.  Have a look:

On My Bedside Table
What are you planning to read during Great Lent this year?  One of the books that I have chosen is Laurus, which was written about by Rod Dreher, The New Yorker, and The Huffington Post.  I know very little about it, but have been imagining that it will be like Kristin Lavrensdatter.  We'll see!

A few hours before Forgiveness Vespers on Sunday evening, I decided to create paper daffodils.  I made a little more than fifty of them and we are planning to attach one to a ribbon each day of Lent with the hope that by Pascha we will have a lovely garland of daffodils decorating the dining room windows.  I will keep you posted on how it goes!

Sunday, March 13

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 12

Peter and the Wolf...


Today we went to the symphony with our dear friends.  It was the first time that anyone in our family had ever been and it was just perfect!  We saw Peter and the Wolf (along with several other pieces geared toward familiarizing children the the symphony, the instruments, and opera).  I asked the children what they thought about the experience and all three immediately chorused, "When can we go again?"     
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