Tuesday, December 22, 2015

And it's about to begin (for the next 2+ weeks!)

I never did show you the twinkle lights in my kitchen.
I love them.
They are staying year round.
These pictures were of last week,
when Mr. Husband was away and I was baking up a storm.
Lemon bars, turtle bars, they are safely in the freezer!
We are about to begin visits with family for Western Christmas
and then will have New Years quietly and then
gear up for our Jan 7th Christmas.
I am praying for at least 1 good day to do lots of BAKING as
everything got askew this year and my baking has been 
last minute, instead of the dreamed of
months ahead wrapped up well and snug in our freezer. 
I have presents to wrap, our Christmas cards 
are going out late this year, and it's all OK.
Christ came in the middle of everything to 
be with us.
All will be well and in all matter of things will be well.
{don't fret if I don't post a lot the next weeks,
it will mean I am living in the moment and am too busy to write!}
Have a blessed Christmas everyone whose Christmas is
this Friday!
Christ is born!
Glorify Him!

Friday, December 18, 2015


My home with soft lights of winter nights before Christmas.
My husband is back home now,
we are so glad to be together again.
Today we go to our far away church for St. Nicholas Day!
I am ready - cookies baked, presents wrapped...!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Turtle Bars ~ eat one and you will want another

First time I made my Mom's *wonderful* *decadent* *gooey caramel goodness*
I read the recipe wrong and put the chocolate chips in the batter.
Note, this recipe does have nuts in it, so don't bake it for those
with nut allergies!
Here's how it is really done and the recipe, too: 

60 caramels or 14-21 oz package (we're talking Kraft Caramels here,
nothing mind blowing!)
half cup evaporated milk
melt it in microwave, 5 minutes cook level 8

batter is as follows:
box German chocolate cake mix (or any chocolate cake mix,
goal here is chocolate)
3 quarter cup melted butter
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts)

1 cup chocolate chips

set melted milk and caramel aside

grease and flour a 9x13 pan 

mixing bowl combine cake mix, melted butter, 1/3 cup e. milk and nuts 
then spread half of that mixture into 9x13 pan
bake at 350 for 8 minutes

take out and sprinkle chocolate chips over baked crust

then spread caramel mixture over chocolate chips
then rest of cake mixture crumble over caramel layer 

bake another 18 to 20 minutes

Take out of oven and let cool.
Don't try to slice it until fully cool.

Steps in a nutshell:

Melt caramel with evaporated milk, mix batter up, bake half for 8 minutes, put chocolate chips on top, then pour melted caramel on top and add rest of batter and bake! 
I have made two batches of these this week
while Mr. Husband is away.
Once they were fully cooled, 
I left them out overnight, covered only after cool,
and slice next day, ladling them out with a strong flat 
pancake flipper onto tin foil,
which then I wrapped loosely over the top (about 4 or so bars per tin foil
and put them in a freezer bag and 
stored until Christmas!
Three TIPS:

Don't confuse the NEEDED evaporated milk
with the NOT needed sweetened condensed milk.
I almost did and my neighbour actually gave me 
the evaporated milk to make this!

When you cook the caramels in the microwave with the
evaporated milk, if they are not fully melted,
like in my picture above, take a fork or spoon
and stir it.  The first time I did this
it was still just a tad lumpy.
Both times I microwaved it in a *covered* bowl,
a glass pot with glass lid to be precise,
and when it was still lumpy,
I microwaved it on power level 8 for 30 SECONDS more
uncovered and stirred and it was fully smooth, liquid.
The second time I stirred and did not need to do anymore heating.

Also, my Mom said to save time, 
unwrapping all the caramels and putting them in a covered container
until you bake them will save time.
I did it this way and it was super helpful!
Thanks Mom! 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas Gifts ~ hand knit, hand made

This is the most special bag, as it is
the last of the lovely spa collection from our stay in
Quebec City on our Honeymoon 
three years ago!
It's wrapped up with a nice hand knit white cloth! 

I knit so many wash cloths so I would be ready to 
bag up some simple Christmas gifts this year:
we have been keeping the best of the hotel soaps
from various places to give this year,
I am hoping along side Christmas baked goods and homemade 
blends of tea. 
Reading various things
What are you reading and creating?
Yarn Along with us!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Tree and Today

This is the same ornament that my godmother gave me
years ago - I insisted that my Mom keep that one, as I like knowing it is on her tree,
even when I can't come home for Christmas. 
This one I bought with my godmother from our MI church bookstore
when I was there in November. 
Such a special time. 

Should I tell you about a certain Cleo cat
who took off not one but TWO bows from
the presents below?
Naughty Cleo! 

I got this cute little dog when I probably a young preteen or so.

This one was from Mrs. M, my preschool teacher.
When I was doing up the tree this year,
I was overwhelmed with the realization that I have had so many 
loving people in my life through the years
and I did not realize just how much I have been given...

This star is from one of my dear church friends. 

Even my phone has a festive new cover :)
Well, today Mr. Husband is working on the other coast, there till late Thursday.
I am baking, getting ready for St. Nicholas day, and things like that.
I had a phone call from a friend today and 
her struggles sadden me.
Please pray for my friend who 
some of you know as Mara.
I put up Christmas white lights under my kitchen cupboards.
Pictures forthcoming.
I love them.
St. Nicholas day is this Saturday.
I am really looking forward to this.
I find the times when Mr Husband is away
on work in another state or even country that
I really miss him.
My Mother says this is a good thing.
I think so too. 
What is happening in your corner of the world today?
May we know that God loves us and 
that Christmas means that He wants to be with us,
even in and even because of us being in,
all of our mess.
God is with us. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Today is a beautiful feast day

I took this picture of the Kursk Root Icon
on Dec 4th when we were at the liturgy at 
St. A. N. church.
Today is the feast day of this wonderful icon.
How much we need our holy Mother of God's prayers.

I was able to get our Christmas Tree up and decorated.
I"ve been trying to pace myself.
It's been difficult.
Today is my husband's work's Christmas party.
He leaves for a 4 day work-related trip early next week.
We are still not feeling 100%.
I ask your prayers.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Putting up the Christmas Tree on St. Katharine's Eve and Day!

I got out our tree yesterday,
it looks so small when putting the first of three pieces together! 

Tree progress, from left to right...

 Last night I put up the tree
and lights.
I have to try to fix a bottom strand of lights,
I have two tips to try from my Dad via IG :)
Today I hope to decorate the tree,
order presents,
and get this house ready for Christmas!

Today is Saint Katharine's Day!
She is a wonderful Saint and Holy Martyr!
I am trying, in the midst of this,
to pace myself, stay well hydrated and eat healthy foods.
We are still in between the lines of well/sick 
and are doing our best.
Happy Feast Day!

Saturday, December 05, 2015

How it is now, in the midst of the Nativity Season

It's Saturday afternoon.
I made it through being gone two weeks,
two good weeks, to my parents in MI.
Mr. Husband and I were apart for 4 days
and the gratefulness of me being back
Mr. Husband has been speaking of for 3 days now.
I stayed longer to go through childhood and teen-hood and 
then early adult years of the 20's and early 30s worth of things
and got rid of more than half of everything.
My books that were there are now about 1/3 left.
My childhood toys, halved.
Letters and papers, maybe halved.
Pictures, still have much to do but got rid of some.
I also had dates with my Mom, with my Aunt and Cousins,
my Godmother, siblings, Thanksgiving meals and more family visits.
It was good.
Also hard to go through things, 
as so many of my friends and others have
suffered great losses that when we were in our mid-twenties
could not foresee. 
Mr. Husband's allergies are raging,
I am tired from a nonstop schedule of things and
am just praying to recoop so I can bake 
St. Nicholas cookies and such things.
Mr. Husband is traveling again soon, for work.
It will be my time to miss him.
I got more fun Christmas things,
napkins, ornaments, a new table cloth,
and beautiful napkin ring holders.
I hope to do two Christmas dinners that others are at,
as well as time with Mr. Husband.
This coming week includes eyeglass appointments,
Husband's work Christmas party,
a few meetings, and I hope baking, home decorating
and peace in our home.
I found out recently that I am a bit low on iron;
I've been having some fatigue issues, to the point that
I am not as strong as I was last year.
So while I am reading a lot of blogs but am not blogging or
even commenting as much on others.
It's the Nativity Season and I am asking for mercy.
For me and for many who I know who are
struggling with a lot of heavy and hard things.
I think one of the reasons I love Christmas so much
are the many stories of hope coming in the midst of
darkness, cold and indeed the bleak mid-winter.
Christ has come to be with us in the midst of 
all that life is, messes, mix-ups, joys, sorrow and 
time spent waiting and searching.
God gives beauty and hope in it all;
I was at a Chanticleer concert yesterday
with such beauty, precision and a real 
sense of Orthodoxy that Tavener had picked up
in his searching.  
To see and hear it performed in person
was a real sense of hope beyond what most
of us see in terms of our daily lives
It's the Nativity Season and I am asking for mercy. 

Thursday, December 03, 2015

A Beautiful Picture

This has to be one of the most beautiful pictures I have 
of this house, one near my parents.
We all have times in our lives when we are suddenly 
thrown for a series of loops so large and incomprehensible
that it is hard to process, even years later.
I can't write much about this one,
as most of the story is not mine to tell.
But it is of loss of a Mother of young children,
it is of unresolved grief, of a generation and two generations
if not three generations of children who are orphaned and then sire orphans
and of situations that do not seem solvable this side of the grave.
When ever I pass by the road with Mr. Husband,
I list off the names of the people who used to live there and 
who do not anymore,
the family of orphans has left years ago.
I have letters from one of these children that I found in a box
of things I was going through as part of my stay at my parents this year
and I am still sad seeing those letters, or the pictures,
knowing that those children are grown, are long outside of my life and
still suffering as adults.
I understand more as time goes on,
as I myself will be 39 now, how
I could not help them as much as I wished, when I was
not yet an adult myself,
and how even now I am still learning to understand
where the lines are in terms of giving to others and what I can 
and cannot give....
It's not easy, is it?
To know what one can offer another and what things are 
beyond one's capacity.  I would say this is one 
of the biggest lessons I have been learning in the last years and see now
how I have been learning these lessons on and off for years now.
Last I heard of the continuing suffering of the orphaned children
was over 3 years ago, when Mr Husband and I were still dating
and he called only to find me weeping at the 
last sadness of this story that had come our way,
months after it had come to that family...
I remember, those many years ago, really over 20 years now,
how I saw how beautiful the land is and 
indeed, I treasure that picture I took this week
and yet, that house is a picture of so much pain.
We all have things in our lives that cause grief and
even things that we can't resolve for ourselves, our families and
really, one just goes on best one can,
with as much love, respect and care that one can give.
And with prayer....
I am seeing too that it is possible to build a life
of meaning and beauty even after seeing such sadness
in the lives of others and how the pain ricocheted into the lives
of many who you love.
Beauty and hope, they are still with us.
God is still with us....

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Making Gifts and a special book on Papa-Dimitri

Finished this book on Papa-Dimitri that I got at the monastery last Friday.
It's good and I need to read it again... 
Making and giving away washcloths as gifts for family and dear friends!
I am in Michigan for 1 more full day and DV
fly back to NJ on Thursday.
What are you making and reading?
Yarn Along with us!

Quilting Adventures Continued

Beginning of November was the quilt guild meeting :: I saw some beautifully made
quilts :: went out to lunch with my husband and a friend :: tried sewing and practicing 
free motion quilting with varied success. 
I am looking forward to trying to sew more after the Holidays! 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas in Storefront Windows and the end of it all

These were all taken in NYC,  a week BEFORE Thanksgiving.
I am still at my parent's house.
I gave out wash clothes I knit while here, and am glad to have more time
to spend with my parents; I saw my Grandmother and others today also.
I am glad to see my family....
I have heard two homilies recently of how 
we cannot stop change, we must think about the fact that one day
we too will die - that we here is only temporary and how we must 
be rich towards God.
I am always reminded of that when I visit my family.
I will be 39 years old soon, my parents are retired, all will change....
I find with all the distractions via technology and such,
that it is a struggle to remember God and keep
Christ as the Centre of our lives.
May He help us prepare for His first coming at Christmas
and His second coming which we all await.