December 29, 2010

Coffee shop hangout

Coffee shop hangout, originally uploaded by mama_marfa.

Starbucks in downtown Cincinnati after ice skating on Fountain Square...Juliana (my niece) and Hannah are so excited to be drinking a nice warm strawberry steamer. This photo was taken last of my favorites. I'm still on "break." School resumes Mon. Jan 3. I've written thank you notes to all of the students in my class for the class gift (a snowman ornament with everyone's name on it and a $75 giftcard to the mall)., I'm going to scrapbook all the photos I've recently had printed at Walgreens. THIS is one of them...

December 25, 2010

Celebrating Christmas for 24 days...

I know it is Christmas for many of you and wish you a joyous feast! Being an Orthodox Christian, we follow the Julian or "old calendar," which is 13 days from the Gregorian calendar most of the world follows (so today is actually December 12th). In 2100, there will be 14 days difference.
(photo taken: January 2008)
So...we observe Christmas for 24 days, starting on December 25th, celebrating with my in-laws, opening gifts, 12 days of Christmas then, January 7th is when we really celebrate the Nativity of Christ and break the fast, 12 days of joyful feasting follow!
My parents gave the girls each a Lands' End dress on St. Nicholas day, which was last week for us!
I thought this was so beautifully written by Elizabeth:
"On Sunday, old calendar, we remember St. Herman of Alaska and blessed Lucia, saint of Light. I don't think it is coincidental that they are celebrated near the darkest time of the year... at a time when those of us in the northern countries are longing, longing for a bit of light, they shine out with the uncreated Light of Christ. St. Herman has brought much comfort to me this winter as I have fought the depression that comes with darkness... it is as if I can see him in his frozen Alaskan cave, still, light and angelic music pouring forth. His presence in Alaska is very real.
St. Herman:
St. Lucy:"

December 20, 2010

Last minute homemade gifts

I'm still making some Christmas gifts...simple, homemade things, like these can make some, too, just ask your kids to help out, or just use cardstock and add a photo. Crocheted hot pads made with 100% wool yarn.

I'm also making ornaments, just cut images from a catalog and glued them to wood and tie a string or ribbon on top.
Make a set of magnets...put a few in a clean old cute.
You can even bake cookies and put them in a tin. Or homemade granola in a jar. My sister just gave us Curried Lentil Soup in a jar! So and green lentils. Tie around the lid with something lovely from Helen Dardik's blog, like these gift tags:

December 15, 2010

Ice rink in our backyard

Rob decided to make a simple ice rink in our backyard, using wood to make a rectangular frame, then laying a thick large piece of plastic that he got at the hardware store over top and then filling it with water. Thankfully, it's been cold enough to freeze. That's Olivia ice skating in the photo above. We're on the look out for a few more pair of ice skates (one for me & one for Hannah)...hoping to find some at a thrift store near us!

December 13, 2010

Playing with snow indoors

We got about 4 inches of snow lovely. Have you made paper snowflakes? The photo above from Jessica Jones. We've been folding up white cupcake liners in our house and snipping here and there...then taping them onto the window. So pretty.
This morning, at work, I filled up a 2 by 4 foot basin of snow for the kids to play in...
Excuse me, let me clarify, learn through play, because when you see the snow melting, you're learning science:
  • that your warm hand will melt the snow
  • snow is a solid (you can make a snowball) but eventually it will change into a liquid, which has different properties (and will then take the shape of the container it occupies)
  • make predictions on how long it will take the snow to melt into water
  • there are definitely a lot more things one can learn, and we should prompt with quesions like: How can we stop it from melting? If it melts, can we turn it back into snow? Ice?
Yes, that is the table we is perfect (adjustable, very sturdy, washable) along with buckets and shovels. Did you know it costs $750? But we do have the best in our school. This week the kids are practicing singing "Go Tell it on the Mountain that Jesus Christ was Born!"
Last week one student said "Is Jesus His first name and Christ His last name?" and today, my niece asked me the same thing! Very thoughtful little children!!!

P.S. This is one of my favorite books on the subject of snow. What happened to Peter's snowball that was in his pocket overnight?

December 10, 2010

44 cents each

...sending out cards tomorrow in the mail...stamps are 44 cents each, I heard rumors they might be going up in price? I wish I'd gotten the evergreen "forever" stamps, but they don't fit into our dispenser. Isn't that thing so cute? my parents gave it to me a few years ago as a Christmas gift. I just love writing letters.

Here's a peek inside! I got 50 of these cards from Shutterfly...I love how they turned out.

Full Of Love Christmas 5x7 folded card
View the entire collection of cards.

December 6, 2010

Our Christmas tree...

Decorating our tree...which we decided to set up in the basement, since we don't want any risk of fire near our woodstove. We're using it every day now. Last week was cold, and we got snow, this week is going to be freezing. It's 20'F right now. We brought Snowball, the bunny, inside.

Rob took the girls to the thrift store today...scored 1 pair of ice skates for Olivia just $6.

We are bundling up, jackets, hats, scarves, mittens, etc...headed out to the zoo tonight to the festival of lights...

December 1, 2010

Ice skates

We went ice was $3 per person plus $3 to rent skates. I saw some old skates for sale for $15 at a shop in Metamora, IN a few days ago, but they weren't the right size. I'm going to keep looking, there are plenty of thrift stores around! Hannah & Olivia had an awesome time...and we were there from 12:30 to 2pm.

I remember days of my childhood, we had roller skates and ice the winter, we would skate on a pond or in our backyard (thanks to my dad, who made a rink out of several 2 x 4 and a plastic tarp, which he filled with water...and in Vermont, it will freeze pretty quickly! One year, Grandma gave us girls each a china doll...I remember my little sister, Susanna, wanted to take her doll with her ice skating and dropped her...and her leg broke. She was so sad. But now it's a sweet story.

November 28, 2010

Checking the mailbox?

As soon as I come home from work, I check the mailbox. Getting mail is a simple thing that give me joy...especially at this time of year. My favorite kinds of Christmas cards are the ones with photos of friends and family! Photos with pretty scalloped edges, fancy cursive and festive colors...I love the designs of these Shuttefly cards. I would scrapbook and send homemade cards, but these are just so much easier...and so cute.
The cards above are just $1.39 right now if I order 30 for a 5x7 card and envelope. How many cards do you send out this time of year?
Want 50 FREE Christmas cards? Share the awesome things Shutterfly has to offer. For more details, check this out:'t that a cute photo...the yellow fire hydrant and snow!
We got snow the day after Thanksgiving here...just a little, but so pretty. I just love love love snow.There are so many pretty Shutterfly card designs to choose from...which one would you pick?

November 22, 2010

Brookville Wednesdays...and chopping wood!

Rob took the girls to Brookville, IN again a couple days ago, while I was at work. It about an hour away. It's a HUGE outdoor flea market. They usually buy Amish cheese and lots of vegetables, such great prices, it's worth the trip. He got a dozen brown eggs for $2.25. He bought lots of sweet potatoes and 50 lbs. of red potatoes too. We'll store them in the basement. I walk in the door to smell cabbage and cauliflower cooking. Gas alert! Then, Hannah and Olivia excitedly show me the knitting needles he bought for them, just 50 cents a pair!Lots of hard work. I carried several heavy logs to the trailer...oh, man. I don't know how Rob has the strength to do it...50 to 100 pound pieces of wood. I guess this one below was 200 pounds, which we'll cut up. He paid $150 for all the wood and it's probably about 6 cords...what a deal. It will heat our home for about 2 winters. I love our woodstove!
We counted about 80 rings...but the man who sold us the wood, said he thought it was about 150 years old...what do you think? How old does it look?
Olivia counting the rings on the oak tree. Rob wants to save a big slice of the tree to make a table with...

November 17, 2010

Ginger pastry for a pumpkin pie...

My parents gave us a subscription for Organic Gardening and the most recent issue (December 2010/January 2011) is wonderful...especially because of the article on the Holm girl's dairy, an organic farm. I read with interest about this family who also might enjoy it, too. And I'm going to use their recipe for ginger pastry on page 45 to make my pumpkin pies in...(click on the link above to see all of their recipes)I taught Olivia how to cast-on and knit...she's very excited and proud of her work so far. Rob was trying to help her... I love that laughter!I found her making a book later...she initially wrote "Niting fun," and I told her about the silent "K" at the beginning...and should tell her to double the "t" but didn't want to correct every little detail...I really like how she drew the knitting needles.Baby's house by Mary Blair...what a cozy home...fireplace, knitting and reading. Feels like my home.Raking, jumping and piling the leaves on the mini-merry-go-round...then, we ate cheese, crackers, carrots, apples and pear cinnamon cider from Trader Joe's...a perfect fall afternoon with friends.

November 12, 2010

Reading & cooking...

I like this book by Cathryn Falwell...she does some beautiful cut paper/fabric artwork...textures and patterns that make it seem so real. The family helps each other out, being together. This book is currently on our bookshelf at school. This week, at the school where I work, we had parent-teacher conferences.
I just finished this fictional book...a bit like Little House on the Prairie but with more troubles, sorrow, dishonesty, moral questions, and spiritual undertones. Uplifting and full of the end.
Olivia drew Daddy and herself. I read some folk tales with her early this morning...

My 9 year old, Hannah, chopped up a whole head of cabbage so that we could make borscht. This afternoon, the 2 of us went on a bike ride together.

Then, a friend came over and we ate dinner together, read stories aloud and crocheted...

Check out this link to 5 book give-aways!

November 8, 2010


...that they will ripen inside on our windowsills.

Or else, we'll be making this:
Old Fashioned Sweet Green Tomato Pie
(a friend of mine made one a couple of weeks ago and I was pleasantly surprised with the taste!)
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
  • 4 cups finely chopped green tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Make the pie crust and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Divide the dough in half. Place 1 piece of the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to an 11-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan. Trim the crust with scissors or a sharp knife to within 1/2-inch of the outer rim.

In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture across the bottom of the prepared piecrust.

Add the tomatoes and lemon juice to the bowl with the remaining flour mixture and toss to coat. Spoon the tomato mixture into the pie shell, and dot with the butter.
Roll out the remaining crust on a lightly floured surface. Place on top of the tomato filling and tuck the overlapping crusts into the pan, forming a thick edge. Crimp the edges to seal and cut small 1/2-inch long vents in a decorative pattern along the top crust. With a pastry brush, brush the top of the crust with the cream, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.
Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before serving.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie.
Rob's been busy getting wood and splitting it...the girls and I have been helping stack it. We've been keeping our woodstove busy.
Look at the gourds we grew in the backyard...Rob's going to make them into bird houses by making a hole in one side!

November 5, 2010

Mark 9:23

"All things are possible to him that believeth."

It felt good to get up early Tuesday Nov. 2, walk down the street in the dark and look up to see the moon waning into a thin fingernail shape, then the constellation Orion at 7 o'clock. I voted. I am happy with the results, too. I do love America.
For a chance to win this book, enter Jane's giveaway here. You may end up wanting to buy this book for yourself or a little child you know. Jane is an Orthodox Christian. She also wrote "The Woman and the Wheat."
Isn't this just such a pretty sweater? Knit sideways, mostly... I am a crochet girl, though. Hannah, Olivia & I went to a local yarn shop and had a great time talking with the folks there, who sat around an inviting table, needles working, talking of shawls, socks, scarves, etc.

November 1, 2010

Karate, caterpillar and don't forget to vote!!!

A few months ago Olivia got a green t-shirt for completing a challenge in karate class. Hannah was just awarded this orange t-shirt! She has been working really hard lately. Here's a video of her doing her kata:

Their sensei is on his way to Okinawa right now. He and several other blackbelts from our school are going to be there for 2 weeks!
Look what a found in our garden, while pulling out carrots last week:
It's going to turn into a beautiful black swallowtail butterfly! I'm hoping it made it...being so late in the year, it's been pretty cold, in the 40s and 30s at night.

P.S. I did NOT take that photo...wish I did go get my camera. Credit:

I hope you are going to make time to go and vote tomorrow!

October 29, 2010

A hat for Olivia...

It's that time of year...

Wanting warmth. I love layering clothes. I just finished a hat using this pattern, but modified it a bit to add ear flaps per Olivia's request.It's sure has gotten chilly here. I rode my bicycle to work yesterday and today...the mornings were SO cold, but thankfully it's only a 20 minute ride (3 miles) each way. I've been wearing a hat, scarf, but need to find my mittens!

P.S. When I got home from work today...Rob had cleaned the house and made a fire in the woodstove, so it was very cozy. Hannah laid in front of the stove on the sheepskin doing her homeschooling...

October 27, 2010

Spray painting...

I purchased a few spray bottles for $1.99 each (proudly made in the USA, found at ACE Hardware...I almost picked up the ones made in China for $1.00 at Deals)!
  1. 1 tablespoon of Crayola paint (also made in the USA) in the 3 primary colors.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of water to each bottle. Screw top back on.
  3. Shake up really well.
And unrolled a long length of paper to spray paint...
We're going to use this for wrapping paper!

October 25, 2010

Color wheel

We gathered as much color from our yard and garden as we could and assembled it to make a color wheel:
I attended a couple of wonderful workshops at the Cincinnati Association for the Education of Young Children this weekend. The one that was the most interesting to me was about the schools that emerged in war torn Reggio Emilia (a town in Italy) in the wake of WW II. There is a book titled The Hundred Languages of Children that I plan to read.

Last night, we sat down to watch PBS at 8pm when Nature is's the only time I really watch anything on the television on a weekly basis, but all 4 of us can enjoy it together. The subject was crows...I was surprised to learn how smart these birds are... They are resourceful, using hangers in Japan to make nests...just made me smile. Only intelligent creatures play. They said that "play allows for unexpected learning," which really hit a point for me. Play is so valuable, allows for mistakes, but is not forced nor needs a specific outcome, the process of doing something because you enjoy it is priceless. It reinforces my decision to homeschool!

P.S. We do not celebrate Halloween.
I am so glad that so many people respect our decision as we respect others in their religious beliefs, but do not participate. This blog is one of my favorites...and she wrote very well my sentiments on the subject.