Thursday, December 29, 2016


(Inspired by Ramona)

1. I have been married to my best friend for over 4 years
2. I have had Cleo the Cat for 10 years.
3. When I was 18 I had my life mapped out for the next 10 years 
4. I thank God that NONE of my 10 year plan @ age 18 happened
5. I have been a member of the Orthodox Church for over 12 years
6. Madeleine L'Engle and Elizabeth Goudge were incredibly important to me
in my 20s and still today
7. My life is good but so full that I struggle with triaging and how to make
all the things I want to do happen
8. My first quilt is almost done
9. My second quilt is half done and I have dreams of more
10. I love to bake for St Nicholas day and Christmas ~ and Pascha
11. I've realized, it feels, more of a link between the need for thanksgiving and the struggle of 
despair and how thanksgiving can pull one out of it
12. I've struggled with burn out of various types since I got married, in part
because I do not work and had free time to give to other's projects 
and my own.  It took time to sort this all out and it is ongoing. 
13. I lived in Ottawa 7 years, in Canada 15. I still miss Canada and Ottawa.
14. My life in New Jersey is really good.
15. My life in NJ still does not match the level of community / access to community
that my life in Ottawa had ~ in part because of where we live and
the distance from our far-away church. It's getting better, but is a constant
16. I have never drank coffee and don't plan on starting.
17. I love tea of all kinds.
18. I love beautiful dishes/dish sets 
19. I love anything that has to do with the home
20. My Grandma is a really big baker and I, too, love to bake. 
21. My trip to Holland this past year was a huge dream come true, went with
Mr Husband and my parents. 
22. My Husband loves, if he knows you well, to joke; I get teased 10,000/day.
23. My family trained me well, giving me lots of teasing time.
24. Favourites of my siblings teasing include telling me that gullible is written on the ceiling,
faking a fight so I would run up stairs, tell them to stop it and then go back downstairs
into my room.  They said my door slam was the best part of it. I was a teenager at the time.
I did not know the fights were staged until they told me in my later 20's.  
25. They also would tell me
that the word gullible is not in the dictionary.
 Now I know it's there but why would they tell me such a thing ;) 
26. My Husband's teasing includes suddenly doing a face to surprise me; 
once we were done praying
and doing the short version of forgiveness vespers 
(i.e. we ask each other's forgiveness nightly). 
During this time we also say we love each other.  
I was looking away or down or something and 
suddenly Mr Husband burst out with a bug-eyed quick movement
 and I jumped about 10 feet. 
I would of been mad but by this time 
Mr Husband was doubled up on the futon laughing 
so happily that I only said how much I love to hear him laugh.  
(It's true, I love his happy laugh)....
He still tries to do things like this,
but I am on to him now and rarely jump or react.  :)
27. My Husband makes me happy in being himself 
28. My parents and I have a long running 20-year joke of me calling when
they are drinking coffee.  They will answer the phone saying 'how did you know
we were having coffee?" and on we go bantering about it. 
29. I've been calling my parents, often daily, since I left for Calvin College at age 18.
30. I left Calvin at age 20 and graduated from TWU years later, living in BC for over 5 years.
31. I am a Canadian Citizen and love Canada.
32. I love silence and classical and Orthodox music. 
33. I stopped listening to most / all non-classical/choral music between 2006-2009. I realized it
was not only destroying my peace but impacting my inward life.
34. I became Orthodox in large part because of the first page of Met. Anthony Bloom's book
Courage to Pray.
35. Becoming Orthodox has been one of the most beautiful, mind-blowing, at times 
most hard, best things I could of ever done with my life.
36. Being Orthodox has helped me in my journey to not think
I am a super-good Christian - and I believe this is the way it is supposed to be.
37. I have wanted to be a published author since age 19 when I studied for January in 
New England...I was just 19 by days.
38. I have so much on the go, don't know if my desire of writing will happen but
I am seeking to create a meaningful life/one that God wants for me.
39. I lived in Sweden for nearly 6 months in my 20th year.  This is where I first
encountered silence. 
40. My trip to Sweden was 20 years ago this year, as today is m 40th birthday. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

St. Nicholas Eve and Day

One of my greatest St. Nicholas gifts this year
came in the form of conversations. 
First, St. Nicholas Eve, at Vigil,
a woman who I have known in passing for years
told me that my writing on Conciliar Post is really 
meaningful to her; that was encouraging to hear, as I 
often am writing with a feeling of great struggle and sense of 
futility in terms of what I am writing. 
Second, one of the White Sisters who serve with the 
church for St. Nicholas vigil and liturgy.
It was wonderful to talk with her at the lunch after liturgy.
I was able to tell her how I had talked with others, both
a Nun who I learned is now an Abbess of a convent about 200 miles from the
St. Elizabeth Convent, and a White Sister when I still lived in Ottawa.
I told the newly met White Sister N. that I have a small icon of the Mother of God
above my sink in the kitchen and that I have a small beautiful box that I got from
them years ago, as well as CDs that I still listen to today.
She and I discussed how our lives are unique, to put it in my words,
that each person has their own path; she talked about her spiritual father
telling her (and I think others) that one must not go a certain way
(even to monasticism) if one does not feel an inner urge to do so...
that each person comes to a place a different way and it 
was encouraging, it felt like a confirmation of my life here,
4 years in, to marriage and service in the Church here. 
I often experience this gift most when I am talking with a
monastic or someone closely aligned to a monastery, a sense of being
lifted out of my blinded perceptions in my daily life and seeing a higher
'tree top' view that shows me that where I am and what I am doing
is God's Providence for me.
So that was a very great and encouraging gift, one that I know
is there to strengthen me, one that I also know is a miracle, 
such times are not always plentiful, 
we have to slog away a long time often before we are given
encouragement to keep on with it.
But yet God is merciful and gives us such times.
I am already aware of the next year, as I plan for Christmas,
I see Lent and the Cross; it's an early Lent this year,
which means a longer Apostles fast in the summer.
I am thankful for the St. Nicholas gift from my Husband of
the cookbook I got and that I got also, from a recent book sale,
some new cookbooks that will also help with fasting foods.
We got some special gifts this year for St. Nicholas Day;
the spoons, a faux pearl necklace (gotten at a Market in Maastricht very cheap),
a Delft ornament, a nice red handkerchief for me (I love red!) and an enjoyable 
book for Mr. Husband! Everything but the books
are from our trip to Holland; I wanted to wait to enjoy them
as gifts for this special season! 
I also got my first birthday card, from a dear friend in Ottawa,
and it's in French! I love it very much!!!
I am about to have visits with family and friends as we go towards if I don't blog again for a bit,
I want to wish everyone here, esp. those on the new calendar,
a blessed and Merry Christmas!
Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Near, yet nearer

I baked dozens and dozens of cookies this week. 
St. Nicholas Day cookies are all bagged up and ready to go!
Christmas cookies are in the freezer, waiting till January!
(Our Church Christmas is January 7th)... 
Already beginning to give gifts, wrapped many;
I have been working on so much at once;
Christmas presents, St. Nicholas Day, planning
a belated birthday party for myself 
(a big birthday this year!), Christmas dinners, 
planning, baking, grocery sugar shopping. 
It snowed today!
And it's pretty much gone, but it was here.
I finally got my covered dish that I have been wanting!
It is in stock and one is on it's way to me here.
I hope to use it for many special dinners to come!
It's pretty much liked a planned marathon with 
breaks from now until January for me. 
I won't have a lot of time to blog,
so if you have Christmas this coming week, 
Merry Christmas!
Christ is Born!
Glorify Him! 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Busy it goes...

We finally got our Christmas schedule 
begun, and we are committed to having some
time for rest.
I am so relieved about this.
I hope to do some baking next week,
but we will see.
Our Christmas cards came!
We did an extra special card this year,
as it is in part a happy commemoration of our
trip to Holland this past fall.
I am so happy that it is the Nativity Season.
It is one of my most favourite.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Many days long + new wonderful (vegan!) soup

Whew! Another week is closing in.
Monday I managed to get the Christmas tree up + other decorations.
Tuesday I went to liturgy for St. Nicholas day (new calendar),
went grocery shopping, came home, had food,
got more groceries delivered, and finished setting up the house for Christmas,
set the table for our special 4 person dinner party,
made a pasta dish 
(EVO with mushrooms, baby bok choy, broccoli, lots of garlic, tomato)
and this soup.
The recipe is as follows:
.... Vegans - you can easily make this vegan by using coconut or olive oil in place of the butter called for.

1 cup / 7 oz / 200g yellow split peas
1 cup 7 oz / 200g red split lentils (masoor dal)
7 cups / 1.6 liters water
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons fresh peeled and minced ginger
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons butter or ghee
8 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
1/3 cup / 1.5 oz / 45g golden raisins
1/3 / 80 ml cup tomato paste
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
one small handful cilantro, chopped

cooked brown rice or farro, for serving (optional)

Give the split peas and lentils a good rinse - until they no longer put off murky water. Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.

In the meantime, in a small dry skillet or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful though, you don't want to burn the curry powder, just toast it. Set aside. Place the butter in a pan over medium heat, add half of the green onions, the remaining ginger, and raisins. Saute for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and saute for another minute or two more.

Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. The texture should thicken up, but you can play around with the consistency if you like by adding more water, a bit at a time, if you like. Or simmer longer for a thicker consistency. The thicker this soup got, the more I liked it.

I've been enjoying big ladles of this soup over ~1/2 cup of warm farro (leftover from this Farro & Bean Stew) - brown rice was good as well. Sprinkle each bowl generously with cilantro and the remaining green onions.

Serves 6.

Prep time: 10 min - Cook time: 35 min" 

This soup is great! 
This soup takes at least an hour, as it says 30 minutes simmer and then later 20 minutes.
I crossed out what I did not do in the recipe above.
I did mix the curry powder (I did not measure but should of put in a lot more) with coconut oil,
then sauted the rest of the ingredients, adding the tomato paste at the end.  I put this all into the soup,
adding the coconut oil at the same time. 
It was a lovely meal with great and meaningful conversations,
many books discussed and looked at, 
it was all so very lovely.
We all have very busy and intense lives and to take time out of it
for a meal like this was a real treasure!
I hope this week has had some beautiful moments for you as well.