Saturday, December 30, 2017

Almost New Year Eve

So... while I had my birthday,
we were also in Ohio with my Husband's family
for our Christmas gathering!  We rented some cabins + gym of 
a camp in Ohio and had a really nice time!  
We were there from Dec 26th to today!
And my beloved Husband was finally able to take me to the
Ohio Bookstore, where he used to go when he lived in Cincinnati and 
bought comic books at when he was a kid and young teen!
It was a wonderful time and I hope to do a blog post on this bookstore
later on this coming week, DV.
We are back home now and got in record time... the plane left early and got in early!
We were home by 2:30! 
So pictures above... last one is the books I found at the Ohio Bookstore 
(I found 3 at the Cincinnati library bookstore also in this stack) :) 
A friend gave us some NYC bakery Christmas cookies!
(I immediately froze them for later!)
The relics of St Tikhon are visiting our local church tonight 
and tomorrow, so that is a real blessing!
The top picture is what you first see when you go into
the Ohio Bookstore :) 
We went to the diner after vespers for dinner, it was good!
It is cold here and snow is on the ground!
I don't remember it being so cold in NJ for this long since
I have lived here! I like the cold but am praying for the
homeless and those who don't have a lot of resources to deal with the cold....
We have vacation through January 8th this year! 
(Our Christmas is January 7th) and I am so very glad!
We are doing a stay-cation for the rest of our time and are DV going to stay 
home, rest up, be cozy, read books, watch the Waltons, I have a baking
day that is needed and I am just so happy to be home with my
sweet Husband and to have this time.
I am really hoping that next year will not have so much sickness and 
that a new year will have really dawned for us.
May God have mercy on us!
And I thank and praise God for the many many mercies show to us already 
in this past year, getting us through so many hard times!
God bless and keep you all dear readers!
And thank you so much for your comments this week - I am 
truly blessed and touched by them!!! 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Had a really nice birthday!

Not a lot of time to write at present, but...
I had a really nice birthday! 
Thanks to all those who commented on my 41 post! 
I really appreciate each of you and your kind words! 
My Beloved Husband took me to 2 used bookstores today! 
And we went out to eat!
I found another Nigella book today! 
After looking about 8 years or so, there it was.
I love looking at cookbooks and reading them;
it's also very much showing social indicators of what is 
important in our society and the outlook of current life as it is lived 
by many (at least in the West).
I've been thinking a lot of the ones who have so much less than I do,
than many of us, who have family, a warm home, enough of all we really need...
I saw a homeless man the other day, his first name is Aaron; so cold and there he was
asking for money, for help, for love... 
it's been super cold in this cold snap so much of North America is having 
and I think of those who don't have a lot of resources.
It's hard to imagine or fully understand. 
Well, I am really thankful to God for my many blessings.
I am still at a bit of a loss on how to do what God wants in all regards,
esp. when I think of the homeless, when I have so much.
It's something I ponder a lot but don't have a lot of answers to,
other than to work on focusing on others and prayer. 
And trying to seek God and see what He wants me to do...
Meanwhile, thanks everyone for kind words and love!
May God have mercy on us!


1.  I figure I am at least (or nearing the) half-way through my life here on earth. I often wonder
about the mystery of where we were born, how some are so poor and some so rich
and how I was born so blessed, of a loving home, of Christian parents, in a 
time of peace and of parents who sacrificed for their children.
2. I read a vintage YA book, Take Wing, by Jean Little yesterday. It was surprisingly 
lovely and very hopeful. 
3. My Husband and I took a jaunt to a used bookstore and I found my 
first Nigella Lawson cookbook ... my friend Em. has some of her cookbooks
and I have been looking for them used, at a decent price, for a long time.
So that was fun! 
4. So I have ordered some red (aka scarlet) fiestaware pieces - 2 small 
casserole dishes, and 6 bowls, 2 each size (super good sale + other discounts)...
they come in a few days.... 
5. I am looking forward DV to using the new scarlet dishes, for my Christmas dinners
soon, with my Spode dishes. They will go perfectly!
6. I bought a new tea recently, I am enjoying it!  It's a strongly spiced tea
and I find that it is best mellowed with a vegan (or if you are feasting non-vegan) milk.
7. I found, same used bookstore, the book
All the Light We Cannot See for a really great price.
8. I am dreaming of writing more and researching. 
9. I am really hoping to embark on some research and writing projects 
and go to a NYC library to do them. 
10. I am really looking forward to DV going to Christmas liturgy in a 
week Sunday.
11. I am feeling a bit more settled and connected to my NJ communities, 
a lot has happened to complicate/slow this down and I am 
grateful for those moments that show that some headway 
has been made. 
12. My baby verse is Isaiah 26:3
13.  I've been married over 5 years now
14. I really want to have a Chinese chicken dish, 
called Wu Se Chicken (Peanut Sauce) in Ottawa at this place
15. I just heard of the leipziger thomanerchor
16. I hope 2018 will be the year I finish my goddaughter's quilt
17. I really want to visit MI and see my family 
18. I love being married to my Husband
19.  I am getting new glasses, they are a more noticeably red frame
20. I love the colour red
21. I also love whites and blues 
22. In my 20s my favourite colour was green, a darker forest green
23. when I was a kid (80's kid), my favourite colour was hot pink
24. I like where I live now but reading Jean Little reminds me of how
I love and miss Canada and part of who I am is only accessed there...
25. I have more than I could ever ask or imagine
26. I don't believe anyone has all they ever wished for, even in big things
27. I think part of life is letting go of dreams and accepting what we are giving
28. But part of life also is seeking out what we are called for
29. It's a tricky balance to discern what we need to let go of and what
is ours to work and fight for 
30. I am by nature more 'free spirited' but am trying to get a bit
more disciplined
31. I really want to gain in routine that I keep desiring
32. I find that I am trying to change some routines to help with my dream of
doing more.  Like trying to get up earlier, getting dressed quickly and the like...
33.  Life often throws unexpected 'curve balls' and this is one of the biggest
reasons I don't yet have the routines and writing life that I want
34. The balance between rest and work is hard to get a handle on
35. Lifework is something I am still seeking to build into my life
36. Baking and quilting and cooking are part of what I am seeking
37. Of course the biggest thing is God and prayer and that is so hard to keep
in balance
38. I am really glad for the sacrament of Holy Confession
39. Holy Communion is one of the most important pivotal things in my life 
and is the only 'perfect thing' that I will experience this side of things 
40. I really appreciate my Husband and his disciplined ways
41. Today is my 41st birthday and I am full of dreams of the coming year... 
(may the Lord have mercy on me!)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The why of writing, of life, of what is sought after

I have been thinking about what I read, listen to and watch.
More and more I see that what I want to write,
what I want to offer the world, 
is beauty, words of encouragement, both of which are
ultimately only of worth if they point to Christ, 
to the Church and to the hope we have...
I find that I am more and more aware, 
in these last years, that everything I look at,
I am searching and I am especially searching for help.
I am constantly looking for icons, for spiritual help, for that peace
that I lose so easily, for that guidance that I have a hard time hearing.
Beyond this, or rather, in this, I am looking for that reason.
That age old question, why am I alive? 
What is my specific purpose? 
And I am finding that I want to offer words that are
beautiful, pictures that speak of warmth, of sharing life, of 
substance, of that something more.
We are all looking for it.  
I hear people saying and even commercials saying:
it changed my life.
I don't think most people know what change they are even looking for.
I guess that is one thing that I understand a bit more,
though putting it into practice is another question.
The change that everyone really needs is to have more of Christ in them
and to be united with Christ.
As an Orthodox Christian I do not hesitate to say that two of the most
integeral ways of this is through the sacraments that are like twins,
one before the other:  Holy Confession and Holy Communion.
After this, and in this, is prayer. 
I wanted to write this down as I hope to get back to my writing again,
and reading.  I wanted to remember why I want to write,
what I want to offer and what I see as the deepest 
points of the change that all of us want
but most of us don't even know 
that it is offered to us, 
or even that it really 
and many of us don't know if we want it,
if we are willing to change our lives so that
our lives can be changed.
May the mercy of God be with us and 
save us!!! 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve (part 1!)

We took our local candle desk man 
to the Christmas Eve service!
And we had a simple meal, so nice,
with friends before this!
And a quick tour of the Candle Desk Man's home
when we dropped him off, it was really quite wonderful!
A whirl wind day as we were at our far-away church this morning! 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A blessed day, Saturday

We had my Husband's cousin over for lunch!
We love it when family travels and is nearby!
We enjoyed the Fia Sauce, a salad, baked mushrooms and onions with garlic,
with rice noodles, shrimp and fish tacos!
A combination of food I had made + take out.
It worked well and we had such a lovely time talking about
things that really matter.
As usaul, you can see Cleo Cat peeking from on top my chair.
It is almost December Christmas! 
I hope each of you stays safe and is blessed this Christmas time!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Road goes on and on

Lisa wrote something beautiful on my blog just a bit ago
and her beautiful phrase:
God's eternal plan never ends for us 
reminded me of this most beautiful song that I have posted above.
Gretchen Joanna introduced me to the Tolkien Ensemble and 
my Husband and I have enjoyed their music deeply together. 

Thanksgiving amidst the marathon of Christmas...

Thanksgiving list:
1. A warm home
2. Our Christmas tree
3. My Husband took me to our favourite diner!
(We got their incredible vegan pea soup to go to enjoy tomorrow too!)
4. I actually drove to the diner *in the dark* (I find night driving to be harder than daytime now days). I made it just fine but always feel like I am doing it a bit 'by the seat of my pants'
5. I got a lot done; tomorrow will be 'cleaning-take-two' day...
6. I collect jars of various sizes and it is so fun to put new tea blends in them!
7. That each day we can start again.
It's really busy days right now,
we are all in a Christmas marathon...
I made more Christmas tea today... there's still another blend I want to make...
but one thing at a time... have to do some paperwork before end of calendar year
and it's all coming so quickly!
I pray that each of you is in good or improving health and that God
helps you and gives His mercy to you abundantly!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Blessings in today

Busy days these are.
I really feel like God is being so merciful helping me with things.
I was able to do a lot of Christmas wrapping today,
prepared some of our teas (had a mishap and have to regrind some spices tomorrow
for the rooibos tea), I was able to clean up the kitchen,
dishes and dishwasher, and have dinner ready...
I find that if I rest in the morning time a bit, I am more productive for the 
afternoon time... 
The last picture is the purse my Husband gave me for St Nicholas day,
only he was the one who did not know what I was getting,
since I 'helped' him get it for me...and got it 20% off... 
I've been pondering about a feeling I had of feeling my age,
whatever that means; I will be 41 soon;
I saw a nice picture of a local friend and it hit me how
she looks so pretty and womanly and that we are all adults now,
it's like I saw in a different way that I am my age and that is good;
does not mean I am any more or less 'put together' but more that
I am being and sense I am the age I am now.
Don't know if that makes sense but I guess it is further processing
of the fact that I am in my 40s, am not getting younger and that
there are a lot of blessings of being the age currently I am.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

St Nicholas Day

Husband and I were at liturgy!
Munchkin too!
A beautiful liturgy.
Passing out cookies...
Lunch nearby at a restaurant. Picking up kombucha.
Home quick and then off to nearby town 
for eye exams and then dinner.
Home. Presents (I got a purse as my other little one is breaking; Husband a 
educational video and Tolkien Map Calendar).  
Prayers. Reading. Quiet.
A blessed St Nicholas day...

Monday, December 18, 2017

St Nicholas Eve

Exceptionally, we were not able to go to vigil for St Nicholas this year
at our far-away church. 
We hope to be there tomorrow though.
I have St Nicholas cookies and cakes packed to give out.
I was able to make tea today, read more of a new book, 
bake 4 little bundtlet cakes, watched a Christmas movie,
talked on phone 3x, made dinner...
the only problem I get into is that I do a bunch of creative things in 
the kitchen and then, well... I have a bit of a mess on my hands.... 
but one thing at a time.  
I hope everyone has a blessed day tomorrow!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

A cute Christmas decorated home

Saw on our way back to our car
after going to liturgy and lunch at our local church.
Cute, eh?
Today, other than the above, we rested, did more Christmas cards (letters),
watched a Walton's episode and have leftovers for dinner.
The cards are almost done.
Tomorrow is prepare St Nicholas cookies and gifts day.
And try to clean up the gift area in our library/chapel so it's less messy.
Busy days! 
I hope yours are blessed.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Saturday of blessings

I now have a lot of the gifts for the season
and hope to start preparing them soon.
Monday I will prepare St Nicholas cookie bags, DV.
I did a lot of clean up today of the baking from Thursday.
We had a nice day together and I am feeling so blessed 
by the Christmas cards we are getting in the mail,
the presents I have to give and the pantry full of 
wonderful treasures. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

NYC and the Sisterhood of St Elizabeth

I made it! to the Columbus Circle Holiday Market to see the 
white sisters of St Elizabeth! I was so happy!!!
Whenever I see either monastics or white sisters (who are 
dedicated to serving the monastery without being monastics),
I am excited; esp. now when I don't get to go that often or see them,
when I do, I feel like I am flying for joy... 
immediate remembrance of who I am, asking how things were this past year,
(I saw this sister a year ago this Dec 19th on St Nicholas day) and 
so much joy in the meeting...
And I took the subways... recently they just 'clicked' how to use them...
when I was first here, I would get so disoriented and confused...
now it makes more sense... and I am so excited...
I did get turned around when going back to the PATH train to NJ
because a person gave me the wrong instructions 
(it's very normal to ask in NYC where to go,
I did not understand the map instructions 
on my phone enough to know what to do)
but in the end a lady at a payless shoes told me to take the subway downstairs
and then go the right and I would be right where I needed to be.
And so it was! 
God gave me so much strenght today and my foot was OK too.
It still needs some PT and stretches, but is doing OK. 
Some beautiful words spoken by Sister Nataliia to me, 
including that Met. Anthony Bloom said once that
we trust God and he asked who does God trust
and the answer was 'us'... as in God loves, values us.
Also that the journey to God is the goal, is the way... and not 
giving keep on with Christ... 
And reminding me that what I can do (like baking cookies)
gives joy to others and is good. 
It was so lovely to see them both (the 2 white sisters) and 
to also get to shop in their store! 
I can't tell or show you what I got, of course, ...
Christmas and St Nicholas gifts you know! :) 
If you want to know more about these white sisters
and the nuns of St Elizabeth in Belarus, the city of Minsk,
go here
And if you happen to be in NYC in the next week, go see them!
Such kindness and such gifts are both a rare treasure! 
The picture of the maroons btw was because it makes me think of 
this dear blog friend... :)
An unexpected side note:
the step-father of my oldest friend died unexpectedly yesterday night.
Please pray for his new widow (my friend's Mom) and my friend and her sister.
I've known this family (the Mom and sisters) my whole life....
my Mom called me with the news...
my parents were good friends of theirs and went camping in the summer
and the now newly departed husband/step-father was going to put in for the 
June camping reservations soon for them.
So it's a real loss and I ask your prayers.
I have not lived in MI for more than a few months at a time in about 20 years
but when you go 'way back' this loss is still felt and understood for what it is.
I am so glad I have such blessing to see the white sisters today 
and for the prayers that will be done for us through this monastery.
God is so good to us.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Cold, Sunshine and St Nicholas Cookies Complete

I was able to do baking all day today, 
with a break for lunch and a few rest breaks.
I did a triple batch of the vegan chocolate chip cookies (with OJ and cinnamon!),
a double batch of fresh cranberries (un-chopped this time) and chocolate chips
and a double batch of chocolate chip with dried cherries (both vegan)
(both from this recipe with egg replacer that includes the 2 tbs of water per 'egg' as 
the 'milk' for this recipe)....
I now have enough for St Nicholas day!
A note about the bowl of OJ: so I do OJ in frozen concentrate...
the other day I was baking and in a hurry and I did something silly.
I forgot that frozen concentrate in a glass jar is NOT something you want to 
hurry along with boiling water.  Yeah frozen + boiling - I cracked the glass
and later we had to throw it away :( 
So since I was in a hurry, I used hot water (not boiling) in my metal bowl 
instead!  (All cookies took OJ!)....
I made us a lemon and raw honey drink this morning...
hot filtered water, a half lemon juiced with raw honey... in hopes that
it will help us stay healthy in this season... 
We went out for dinner at our favourite diner. 
It's gloriously cold here and it snowed here overnight! 
Mr Husband and I went on a walk this afternoon,
he's working from home this week for the most part.
For lunch we ate at the cozy far end of the table,
as the cookies were taking up a lot of the table... 
it was nice and fun for a change.
And it's fun to have our Christmas table cloth back for 
this wonderful Nativity Fast and Christmas season!
So I am hoping to do something finally for the first time tomorrow...
DV I will be in NYC and I hope to go to the 
Holiday Market at Columbus Circle (this is near Central Park)
and see the Sisterhood of St Elizabeth that is there, 
I first knew of these in Ottawa, they came to our church twice while I lived
in Ottawa, from what I remember... and last year one came to our 
church for St Nicholas day...
So I hope to go there tomorrow to the little stall they will have,
They are very special and I do hope to find this stall 
(I already emailed myself the exact location of their stall yesterday!
I have a little icon on wood of the Mother of God right above my sink
that was from their sale they had at my church in Ottawa...
They are doing such good work, hard work and very worthy
and to be so linked to St. Elizabeth the New Martyr, who is also
the patron of my far-away church, is very special to me.
Please pray that I am able to do this!
I have wanted to for a few years and it would be a real
encouragement to me to be able to go and see them....
To be able to make my goals of baking + I hope NYC tomorrow
means a lot to me.
On another note - I have a dear dear friend in Ottawa
who is going through a hard time and her husband was rear-ended tonight 
in his car; he's OK from what I know but man, it was a super bummer
added to a lot of raising-kids-is-hard stuff... Please if you can say a prayer for
my dear friends, I would appreciate it!
God bless you all and keep you!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A quiet day

Husband worked from home,
we enjoyed today.
I did a lot of walking and am slowly diminishing my PT appts. 
Tomorrow I hope to do some St Nicholas cookie baking.
Friday DV I go to NYC.
I am reading a book on St Herman and am finding it to be very dear to my heart.
I was really blessed to find it used in Holland last year
for a reasonable price.
It's finally COLD here and I am LOVING it, 
while praying of course for the homeless... 
it's hard sometimes to realize I am so blessed while others
are suffering so much.
Lord have mercy on us all! 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Summary of busy days

Busy days!
Quick summary
1. This weekend it snowed and I had such joy when we got a ride
with dear local friends to vespers... it was such a joy,
the snow, the company... we went to the diner after vespers...
2. Vegan cheese pasta sauce ... the leftovers became a fish-day
tuna broccoli and rice casserole with this vegan sauce! 
3. Went to the mall today and mechanic, actually found what I was looking for!
4. We got some more good news lately on the unbloggable front. 
We keep pressing on and praying.
5. Praying very much for CA with these fires
6. First batch of Christmas letters is going out tomorrow, DV!
7. I watched some fun Christmas movies lately. 
Someday I hope for some Christmas books to read, novels perhaps,
but all my Christmas books are still in our 'crazy closet' as we call it.
That's OK.  I have a lot I hope to do (Cookies, tea etc) if God so allows.
8. Really praying that we do not fall ill.  Lots of sickness going on.
No matter what, God is with us - and with you.