Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Little Princess

  I first saw the Regency dress pattern over at Pleasant View Schoolhouse, and purchased it a while ago.  Unfortunately, it sat untouched until this week. In an attempt to use up fabrics that have been sitting for too long, I grabbed this quilting duo of cotton florals.  While I am not crazy about the top fabric, I didn't have enough of the other to complete the dress in one fabric, and the little princess loves it, so who am I to argue!  While the dress seemed intimidating, it actually was very straightforward and the pattern is very clear.  Maybe one day I will get around to making the adult version

Monday, November 29, 2010

One Thousand Gifts

holy experience

2. warm cheesy goodness, shared by a good friend, a blessed break during a fast 
3. children who love to spend time with family

4. family around a table, laughing, talking, sharing, loving

5. another new life, a new baby cousin soon to join this family

6. eavesdropping on play time between three year olds 

7. The Great Light, which shone upon this world 2000 years ago, and still shines today

Saturday, November 27, 2010

On Bringing up children

"From all that I had read of History of Government, of human life, and manners, I [have] drawn this conclusion, that the manners of women [are] the most infallible Barometer, to ascertain the degree of Morality and Virtue in a Nation.  All that I have since read and all the observation I have made in different Nations, have confirmed me in this opinion.  The Manners of Women, are the surest Criterion by which to determine whether a Republican Government is practicable, in a Nation or not.  The Jews, the Greeks, the Romans, the Swiss, the Dutch, all lost their public Spirit, their Republican principles and habits, and their Republican Forms of Government when they lost the Modesty and Domestic Virtues of their women...
The foundations of national Morality must be laid in private Families.  In vain are Schools, Academies and universities instituted if loose Principles and licentious habits are impressed upon Children in their earliest years.
The Mothers are the earliest and most important Instructors of youth."

John Adams

Friday, November 26, 2010

Jesse Tree

A few years ago I participated in the Jesse Tree ornament exchange on the Orthodox Yahoo group.  The following year I coordinated an exchange among ladies within my church.  The result is we have quite a beautiful collection of ornaments! 

To simplify things this year, I ditched my branch tree and decided our ornaments are going straight on the Christmas tree.  To organize them, I purchased small metal tins from H*bby Lobby, and labeled them with the day they are to be opened.  They are now sitting under our tree in our living room.

Adam and Eve

There are wonderful resources for readings out there, but this year we are blessed to have a set of readings written by the Queen's godfather.  They are shortened from the Biblical readings, but stay true to the wording without simplifying the language of scripture, and we are loving them!  Of course, they differ from the ones we have used in the past, so I am going to need to make a few new ornaments to coordinate with these new readings. 

the Fall in the Garden
As we open them, I thought I would try to post each week photos of the ornaments from the previous week.   The ornaments posted correspond to our readings for the first week of Advent, though I need to create an ornament to correspond to our readings from Job, as well as an ornament for the Tower of Babel. 

God's Covenant with Noah

If you are looking for your own Jesse Tree readings, you can go to Mat. Emily's blog, where she has organized a series of readings from the Children's Bible Reader, as well as a set of coloring pages to correspond to the readings.  There are also nice readings which can be found on Festal Celebrations.  
God's Covenant with Abraham


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Glory to God for All Things

I was born a weak and defenseless child,
but your angel spread his wings over my cradle to defend me. 
From birth until now your love has illumined my path, and has wondrously guided me towards the light of eternity; from birth until now the generous gifts of your providence have been marvellously showered upon me.  I give you thanks, with all who have come to know you, who call upon your name.
Glory to you for calling me into being.
Glory to you, showing me the beauty of the universe.
Glory to you, spreading out before me heaven and earth,
Like the pages in a book of eternal wisdom.
Glory to you for your eternity in this fleeting world.
Glory to you for your mercies, seen and unseen.
Glory to you through every sigh of my sorrow.
Glory to you for every step of my life's journey,
For every moment of glory.
Glory to you, O God, from age to age.
Happy Thanksgiving, and may we all be so thankful each and every day of our lives.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tea Party Planning

Invitations usually consist of blue cardstock, a black line icon of the presentation, and all pertinent details tucked inside, tied with a pretty blue ribbon of course.  All the little girls ages 2-12 are invited to attend.  As a teenager, I decided that some day I would run one of those cute little tea rooms, so I would frequent antique stores looking for pretty and inexpensive tea cups. 
 The result, I now have a collection of over 40 tea cups, most of which saw very little use for many years.  Now, I love to see all of the cups I spent 15 years hunting for, lined up in various shapes and sizes, and finally getting used!  Yes, occasionally one gets broken, but it is worth the risk to see the joy in a 3 year olds eyes when she gets to drink from a fancy cup like the big girls. If you cannot scrounge enough tea cups from parish members to work, be on the lookout for a deal.  Often you can find a set of tea cups in flea market shops for very little expense.  As for tea, over the years we have used a variety of things.  The first few years we served lemonade, then apple juice, and this year I made a sweet chai tea, with apple juice for those who did not care for the tea.  Plates - I guess I have to confess I have an unnatural love of dishes.  I have tried this year to begin to reduce the number of dishes I own, but my blue and white plates are used on a daily basis, so they are a keeper.  I have over 40 of them, collected from antique stores as well as received as gifts.  This year, my little dimples' godmother also donated a set of lovely floral dishes, so we used them mixed in with the blue and white plates. 

Flowers were sweet and simple, a generous friend from church created beautiful arrangements of roses from discards at the floral shop for which she works.  Tea cups and pots were used to hold just a few sweet blooms.  Later, the girls carried the flowers into the temple and placed them in front of various icons.

The food is the area that we have learned the most from trial and error.  The first year we had someone make wonderful vegan fudge, but what a disaster with all of the white dresses!  I have tried to keep the menu simple, and have several moms help out.  This year we had dainty little vegan lemon cupcakes, jelly sandwiches cut into the shape of angels and crosses, and fruit salad.  The key is to avoid anything that stains, pineapple, melons, apple, watermelon and grapes are good choices, and we use apple jelly on the sandwiches.  Since we encourage the girls to wear their finest, and especially white dresses if they have them, stains do have to be considered.

Another tradition that we started was the ornament gift (you can see the silver stars on the table above).  Each year, as soon as the Christmas ornaments are in stock at Hobby Lobby (which seems to be in July these days!), I start hunting for a sweet little ornament to give the girls.  The ornaments are tagged with their name and the date of the tea, as a keepsake to remember the day.  This year, we had so many girls, I had a hard time finding enough of any one ornament, so the choice was not my favorite.  Last year we used the little silver frame ornaments and put a small icon of the presentation in it.

Now, timing of the party is something that fluctuates.  The first few years, it was held immediately following the Liturgy for the Presentation, on the morning of the 21st (many of the girls of school age got to skip school to attend :).  The girls processed with candles and the icon during the liturgy, then afterwards Father served them tea.  The past two years, the feast has fallen on a weekend, so we have held the tea on Saturday before Vespers.  After the tea, they all get their candles and process into the church at the beginning of Vespers.  Then, during vespers Father has them all join in a second procession around the church, with the icon of the Presentation leading the procession.  Yes, they carry lit candles, and yes, it seems that every year someone's hair gets singed.  I am working on a solution for that, perhaps letting them carry votive candles might help?  On the other hand,  isn't burned hair a rite of passage for any Orthodox girl?  The other possibility we are discussing is to allow the smaller girls to carry an icon of the Theotokos in the procession, and only have the older girls carry candles.  It has become such a beautiful tradition in our parish, and a very special event our girls looks forward to each year.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Presentation Tea

This year was our 5th Annual Presentation Tea Party in honor of the Theotokos entrance into the Temple.
Father was kept on his toes, as he tried to keep up with refilling the tea cups of 40 little girls, our largest group ever!
The Queen sips from her favorite tea cup, somehow she managed to swap cups when I wasn't looking to be sure she got it!
After tea, the young girls all waited patiently outside as their candles were lit,

then reverently processed into the church,
just as the young virgins did over 2000 years ago, leading our Most Holy Mother of God into the temple where she resided and prepared to become the dwelling place of our Lord, 
Theotokos, God-bearer.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nativity Fast

Our menu for the Nativity Fast has been slightly revamped, as I found a new cookbook that has been very helpful in broadening my horizons.  While I don't use large amounts of fancy soy products (soy milk is the one soy product used around here, and only for cooking occasionally), and I don't go for a lot of meat substitutes (I am sorry, how does one explain they are having "seitan" for dinner during Lent?  go ahead, say it out loud, you know you want to),  I am always open to learning how to introduce a bit more protein into the fasting season.  Since the Nativity Fast is a bit less strict, and has more of the air of excited anticipation, this is a time when I enjoy finding a few nice comfort foods to serve.  Let me just say, the recipe for Leek & Bean Cassoulet is worth the purchase of the whole cookbook in my opinion.  Snuggled in a cozy chair in the kitchen, with a fire burning in the stove, books cheerily wrapped and tucked under the tree, who can resist a hearty, piping hot vegan pot pie?