Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Kindness of my Husband...

After a slew of busy busy days, 
I was exhausted.
Between goodbyes to our goddaughter's family,
Christmas preparations and general business,
I had been home all day and not gone out,
so very tired. 
And then my husband chatted me about him
coming home and would I like to go out
to our favourite diner for dinner? 
Unsure, as I was tired,
I looked through pretty pictures on Habit and 
realized that I would indeed
like dinner out.
So we went, both of us got pasta with shrimp dishes
and now I have enough left overs for some great lunches.
I am so grateful for my thoughtful
Mr. Husband.

Monday, December 29, 2014

38 this year

My birthday gift this year
I got earlier, washed and put away safely...
Mr. Husband and I found some vintage made in England
Christmas dishes...
Today is the beginning of my 38th year.
I am very aware that this is a happy 
time in my life, a joyful season; but I am also aware 
of the way that life has seasons...
And so I pray that God will fortify me for whatever is to come.
And for now, on this birth-day,
I seek to be thankful....

Friday, December 26, 2014

Towards True Light...

When I did my many book orders for my church
for Christmas and St. Nicholas day ordering,
plus normal spiritual reading that we do,
I finally ordered for Mr. Husband and I a 3 year 
subscription to The Orthodox Word,
a journal I have long loved.
They sent an extra copy with our first issue,
this one to be exact:

and the talks by St. Barsanuphius have 
been just what I needed to read.
A challenge but also an encouragement
to keep up the Christian Struggle.
Something I've been struck with and find myself thinking on
throughout the day is the concept and understanding he 
speaks of in terms of heaven and hell starting now,
with what we put and allow in our souls.
Are we working on eradicating anger, greed, selfishness,
which make heaven absent in the soul...
One of the themes I am noticing is that 
we struggle and fall but if we keep struggling as a 
Christian and thinking about eternity and the current and 
future state of our souls ... and turn to Christ in that struggle,
we will be saved. 
It's at once heady and challenging reading,
but that which gives clarity, encouragement and a light to go 
towards, a Light that really is there.
I am so thankful for such words.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Blessed and Merry Christmas

May all children be glad on this day!
Their Lord Christ is born 
to be with us,
to save us,
to bring us light and joy!
Wishing everyone a very Merry and Blessed Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Norman Baron by H W Longfellow ~ a poem my husband sent me for Christmas Eve

The Norman Baron

In his chamber, weak and dying,
Was the Norman baron lying;
Loud, without, the tempest thundered,
      And the castle-turret shook, 

In this fight was Death the gainer,
Spite of vassal and retainer,
And the lands his sires had plundered,
      Written in the Doomsday Book. 

By his bed a monk was seated,
Who in humble voice repeated
Many a prayer and pater-noster,
      From the missal on his knee; 

And, amid the tempest pealing,
Sounds of bells came faintly stealing,
Bells, that from the neighboring kloster
      Rang for the Nativity. 

In the hall, the serf and vassal
Held, that night, their Christmas wassail;
Many a carol, old and saintly,
      Sang the minstrels and the waits; 

And so loud these Saxon gleemen
Sang to slaves the songs of freemen,
That the storm was heard but faintly,
      Knocking at the castle-gates. 

Till at length the lays they chanted
Reached the chamber terror-haunted,
Where the monk, with accents holy,
      Whispered at the baron's ear. 

Tears upon his eyelids glistened,
As he paused awhile and listened,
And the dying baron slowly
      Turned his weary head to hear. 

"Wassail for the kingly stranger
Born and cradled in a manger!
King, like David, priest, like Aaron,
      Christ is born to set us free!" 

And the lightning showed the sainted
Figures on the casement painted,
And exclaimed the shuddering baron,
      "Miserere, Domine!" 

In that hour of deep contrition
He beheld, with clearer vision,
Through all outward show and fashion,
      Justice, the Avenger, rise. 

All the pomp of earth had vanished,
Falsehood and deceit were banished,
Reason spake more loud than passion,
      And the truth wore no disguise. 

Every vassal of his banner,
Every serf born to his manor,
All those wronged and wretched creatures,
      By his hand were freed again. 

And, as on the sacred missal
He recorded their dismissal,
Death relaxed his iron features,
      And the monk replied, "Amen!" 

Many centuries have been numbered
Since in death the baron slumbered
By the convent's sculptured portal,
      Mingling with the common dust: 

But the good deed, through the ages
Living in historic pages,
Brighter grows and gleams immortal,
      Unconsumed by moth or rust.

Just loving our Christmas Tree

I love the lights reflecting on the glass of these windows at night.
The Saint Nicholas book is lovely though not fully Orthodox.
I read it to my Sunday School kids (they love it) but had to 
change a few things as the author does not have a full
understanding of Saints.
I am so grateful for all we have been given,
Christmas trees, books, beauty, and above all
the Lord coming at Christmas time...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

{Christmas Baking} ~ Cookies for Christmas: New England Sour Cream Cakes

I found this vintage cookbook some years ago...

I made cookies with cranberries and chocolate chips for Christmas,
with a milk, vanilla and powdered sugar glaze!
Recipe is with eggs, butter & sour cream!
They are in the freezer waiting for Christmas!
Will try to remember to show them to you then!

Monday, December 22, 2014

{Homemaking} ~ Decorating our Home for Christmas

Decorations need not be complicated to be beautiful...

I got this candle holder / ribboned vase last year at 
St. Nectarios Monastery. 

The Nativity Icon is from Holy Dormition Monastery...

Friday, December 19, 2014

Saint Nicholas Day...

St. Nicholas Eve we met dear friends for dinner
and gave small gifts.
Mr. Husband and I somehow got both sets of our car 
keys locked in the car but thankfully help came 
within the hour.
And so we could all go to vigil for St. Nicholas day.

Church is always so beautiful at night...

The oil we were anointed with last night was so fragrant... 

St. Nicholas the much loved!

It was a lovely service.
We went to liturgy in the morning and handed out
cookies and things of dried cherries.
In return we were given some lovely ginger muffins and 
other surprises!

I am so grateful for St. Nicholas and all
the help he gives us!
I read this book to children last night and this morning
and it is simple and lovely.

The Day after the Nativity Fast Tea...

Cleo as always, sitting a top of one of the white chairs!
PS: Happy Saint Nicholas Day to all who celebrate it today!
Mr. Husband are off early to church for Liturgy 
and the handing out of cookies!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

{Hospitality at Home} ~ A Ladies Nativity Fast Tea

Chocolate glazed and chocolate raspberry cupcakes,
chocolate and chocolate chip with raspberry cookies.

Lemon, two coconut creamers, sugar.

Teas: Prince Vladimir, Camomile Lavender, Christmas Chai, Orange Pekoe, Coffee.

Grandma's dishes, various tea pots, my Oma's tea cozies,
plus the one I was given as a wedding gift...

The tea tray is from IKEA.

Koek and wonderful chocolate cake!

Cake was a lovely addition!!! 

We gathered together, all 8 of us, 
with our local Matushka and talked about
what it means to be an Orthodox woman, married, 
working Mothers with
children, how things have changed, raising children,
homemaking traditions. 
It was so lovely and I do hope we can have another
in the new year...
building community is so important and needed in our lives.
And to come together as Christians,
and of course to have tea....

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cozy Striped Blanket Borders Begun!

I am about halfway through L' Engle's Two-Part Invention.
I am really enjoying this; the first time I am re-reading it since
I gave my copy away to a cousin years ago and first 
time since I myself am married.
It's a comforting, real, consoling read.

I decided to do a boarder that is 'ribbed' as it were.
I have not picked up stitches yet as I kept knitting 
only where I already have a 'live' thread going.  
I think I will practice a bit before making the boarder itself,
but am confident that I can do it.

I am pleased that so far I've done the first border section without mistake.
A few times I frogged back slightly but feel
that I am getting the hang of paying attention to my knitting
to do a more constant slightly more complicated stitch. 

I am excited to add a border to the rest of this blanket!
I think it will finish it off nicely. 

I am enjoying the colour combination!
And am already thinking of my next blanket, 
which will be in shades of blue and with continued stitching variations. 
What are you reading and creating?
I would love to hear!
Yarn Along with us!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

{Baking @ Home} ~ Christmas Cranberry Chocolate Chip {Vegan} Cookies

My cranberry chocolate chip cookies I have made
are very crumbly, while delicious and 
I thought I would try a different way....
I went back to the original recipe...
while this cookbook is a 'mass market one' I can't help
feeling that it is very personal...like the author of the recipe
talking right to you as it were.... 

I used vegan margarine and an egg replacer.

I was talking to my Grandma last week and 
telling her how I made my Christmas Chai with
my coffee grinder (will do a blog post on that in the next weeks
I hope!) and she said she uses her food process to chop cranberries.
Genius I thought and did the same!!! 

Mixed up the dough with egg replacer, 
added cranberries coarsely chopped and vegan chocolate chips...

I could tell the batter was great as it was 'thicker' as it were...

I don't worry as much about having my cookies look 'neat' as it were... 

They turned out well!
I think I will try to make four batches of these next year,
what you see here is two batches done in 1 batch... 

All these cookies are now in the freezer to get out later this week
for St. Nicholas day!
Some of them were enjoyed earlier for a Ladies Tea I did...
and they were quite enjoyed! 
Edited in 2018 to add this picture with baking times:

10-15 minutes @ 375F! I do mine about 12 minutes or so.