Sunday, April 29

April 29...

It's time for another Commitment to Loveliness! This is a fun way to increase femininity and beauty in our lives each week without even trying! All you have to do is choose five things that you would like to work on or do during the week that will increase the loveliness in your life!

Here is my list for this week:

1. Take time to nap (or at least rest) each day.

2. Instead of watching mindless t.v., read!

3. Begin work on my first embroidery project.

4. Paint nails a fresh color.

5. Buy a few more glass canisters to organize the pantry.

Once you have chosen five simple things, post them on your blog and link to this post in your post, and then post the direct link to your Commitment to Loveliness post below. If you do not have a blog, but have a commitment to share, please post them in the comments section.

What Makes a Good Party?

Saturday, April 28

The Magazine about Romantic Living to Debut October 2007...

Hoffman Media, LLC and Hearst Magazines Form Joint Venture to Re-Launch Victoria

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., April 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Hoffman Media, LLC, publisher of the successful magazine Cooking with Paula Deen, today announced that it has partnered with Hearst Magazines to re-introduce Victoria, a magazine that ceased publication in 2003. The two companies have formed a joint venture for the purpose of publishing Victoria and ancillary media products and events under the Victoria brand name. Owned and operated solely by Hearst from 1987 to 2003, Victoria will now be entirely under the direction of Hoffman Media, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama.

Under the terms of the agreement, Hoffman will handle all editorial, production, distribution and advertising for Victoria. Hearst will contribute the Victoria trademark, copyright, URL, subscription database, and access to historical content of both editorial and art.

Founded in 1987 by Nancy Lindemeyer, Victoria was the authority on romantic living, including home and garden, fashion and beauty, food, home decorating, collectibles and profiles of remarkable women. Its mission was to create a community of kindred spirits - those who recognize the importance of beauty and manners and traditions in daily life. In its new form, Victoria magazine will once again take its place as the official guide to gracious living.

Victoria will be published bi-monthly with its first issue hitting newsstands in October 2007 with a November/December issue. The magazine will carry a cover price of $4.99. Hoffman Media's launch plans for Victoria include heavy newsstand distribution, strong internet presence, and targeted direct mail campaigns. The ultimate goal for the launch of this bi-monthly magazine will be to reach 250,000 paid copies after just two issues.

"Victoria magazine had a unique editorial perspective and a loyal readership since its very first issue in 1987," said Cathleen P. Black, president, Hearst Magazines. "Because of its success in the niche women's lifestyle market, Hoffman is the right publisher to bring the Victoria brand back to life in its new format and we are confident that Phyllis and her team will do a great job."

While Hearst ceased publication of Victoria following the June 2003 issue, the brand has lived on through a series of branded books published by Sterling Books.

"Women across the country have longed to have their beloved Victoria back and now they will," said Phyllis Hoffman, CEO, Hoffman Media. "Victoria is a perfect fit for our roster of lifestyle titles that share a similar editorial and demographic focus. We're thrilled to be working with Hearst to revive this brand for a more targeted audience of women."

A leading special-interest publisher, Hoffman Media is known for specializing in magazines targeting the women's market. The company's most recent launch, Cooking with Paula Deen in October 2005, met with unbelievable success-reaching a rate base of 750,000 after only eight issues. The company also publishes titles such as Southern Lady, Tea Time and Taste of the South.

About Hoffman Media, LLC

Hoffman Media, LLC, headquartered in Birmingham, AL, is a leading special- interest publisher specializing in magazines targeted to the women's market. In addition to publications, the company has a growing consumer seminar business and an established ancillary products division.

Press Release

Hoffman Media

Hearst Corporation

I have been hoping for this moment since 2003... you can bet that I'll be in line for this magazine in October!!

Thursday, April 26

Family Picnics...

Now that winter is dwindling, our plan to have weekly family picnics is becoming closer to reality. Though we live in an area that is overrun with tourists from mid-May to mid-September, there are beautiful parks and beaches (not to mention our own deck and garden) quite nearby where we can enjoy alfresco dining without the crowds.

Despite popular belief, one does not need fancy matching accessories to enjoy a wonderfully elegant picnic experience... though a perfectly appointed picnic basket is always nice!

When planning your picnic, you need to gather some simple things from around your home to ensure that you will be able to dine in comfort. The first item you'll need is a picnic blanket if you will be eating on the ground or a tablecloth if you will be using a table for your meal. Keep in mind that you'll want something that you'll be able to clean easily. Some stores even sell beautiful blankets that are backed with plastic to keep moisture at bay. In addition, select a large and strong basket (or two) to hold all of the things you'll need on your picnic.

After choosing a blanket or tablecloth and a basket to use on your picnic, you'll need to consider the tableware you'd like to bring. Before choosing whether you want to use paper products, washable plastic, or even china on your picnic, you need to decide the type of picnic you are planning to host. Pack forks, knives spoons, plates, cups, bowls, etc. Don't forget the need for serving pieces: large spoons or forks, tongs, a sharp knife, and serving dishes. It is also imperative to remember napkins, paper towels, can and bottle opener, corkscrew, cutting board, salt and pepper, sugar, ziplock bags for leftovers, a trash bag, wipes, and beverages. If you plan on grilling, you'll also need: a grill (if one is not provided in your picnicking spot), charcoal and wood chips, fire starter or lighter fluid, matches and/or a lighter, barbecue tongs, meat fork and spatula, baking soda for fire safety, an apron, and oils, seasonings or other ingredients to create the recipes you plan on preparing.

Once you've collected all of the things you'll need on your picnic, it is time to plan your menu!
There are several sites that have pages dedicated to recipes perfect for picnics. Be sure to choose dishes that travel well and will be enjoyable to your guests. has an entire page suggesting various menus that you can prepare and bring on your picnic.

Choosing a location is the final step in planning your picnic. Though you can always select an unusual venue to enjoy your meal, stand-bys include parks, the beach, a playground, a meadow, the woods, a stone wall, etc.

Once you've collected your picnicking materials, prepared the food you plan to bring, and selected your location, your picnic should go off without a hitch! Schedule some time to enjoy this fun and relaxing activity with your family this spring and summer!

Breath of Spring, L. Diane Johnson

Our House Has a Name...

After living in our home for about eight months, we've finally settled on a name: Northwoods Parsonage. I did a quick (and not very in-depth) search on Google and it doesn't seem to be a common name. What do you think?

Willy Lott's Cottage, Suffolk: R C Martin

Monday, April 23

Embracing Femininity Through Taste...

Here are some things that we can do to improve the feminine taste of things:

Make foods you know your family will enjoy eating.

Keep mints in your handbag to quickly freshen breath.

Be sure to replace your toothbrush as recommended by your dentist.

Introduce your family to a variety of different foods to help broaden their taste horizons.

Get your teeth cleaned at least twice a year.

Bring a signature dish to share at pot lock suppers, coffee hours, or to other events where food is shared.

Incorporate seasonal fruits and vegetables into your menu planning.

Develop a taste for your husband's hobbies and interests so that you are able to show him genuine interest.

Practice good taste when dealing with other people... whether they are in your family, friends, acquaintances, or even strangers.

Take your family's tastes into consideration when purchasing clothing, furniture, decorations, etc.

Use fresh herbs and spices in your cooking.

April 22nd...

It's time for another Commitment to Loveliness! This is a fun way to increase femininity and beauty in our lives each week without even trying! All you have to do is choose five things that you would like to work on or do during the week that will increase the loveliness in your life!

Here is my list for this week:

1. Bake!

2. Take a trip to the library to borrow some Miss Read books.

3. Use Olay Body Thermal Pedicure on tootsies.

4. Plant window box flowers for deck.

5. Search out beautiful and inexpensive baskets to organize baby clothing, baby toys, and various other household odds and ends.

Once you have chosen five simple things, post them on your blog and link to this post in your post, and then post the direct link to your Commitment to Loveliness post below. If you do not have a blog, but have a commitment to share, please post them in the comments section.

Corn Flakes...

Thursday, April 19

The Passion According to Matthew...

Several weeks ago there was a broadcast of a symphonic and choral meditation on The Passion According to Matthew composed by Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Vienna and Austria. Unfortunately, we totally missed it and have been searching in vain for audio and/or video of the event. We were blessed tonight to find that a 45 minute clip was loaded onto Bishop Hilarion's website for download. Don't be daunted by all the Russian... this music moved me to tears!

Wednesday, April 18

The Thinking Blogger Award...

Jeannie has nominated me for a Thinking Blogger Award! Thank you Jeannie! I am very flattered!

Here are five blogs I think deserve a Thinking Blogger Award:

1. Elizabeth: Every time I read a post on Elizabeth's blog, A Merry Rose: Blooming as Keeper of My Home, I learn something! Elizabeth is an eloquent writer with a vast store of knowledge to share!

2. Anna: Anna's two blogs are a constant source of inspiration! Reading about her family, life, and projects always encourage me in my quest to become a better wife, mother, and homemaker.

3. The Sartorialist: I love people watching and this blog gives me a glimpse onto the streets of New York and Europe!

4. Courtney: From the first time I came upon Courtney's site, Zuzu's Perch, I felt a connection... the most obvious similarities were our weddings, careers in education, and our babies due dates:) I love this girl!

5. Faerieeva: This lovely lady has a blog that is pretty new, but is so nice to visit! I enjoy reading about the transitions she's making from living in Belgium to residing in the US, from being single to becoming a married lady, and soon from being pregnant to becoming a mama!

When Blogger starts to cooperate again, I'll add the award logo.

Tuesday, April 17

Homemaking with a New Baby...

Kat recently left a comment asking what my homemaking routines were like after having our first born. Unfortunately, I really don't have a simple answer for that question because of life changing events that happened around the time of our daughter's birth: my husband's ordination to the priesthood and a move to a new state. Instead of a straight forward answer, here is the (whole) story:

Homemaking and a full time job rarely mix well. My homemaking life while teaching was no exception. Despite my best laid plans, I was never able to complete homemaking tasks during the week and thus was frantic to clean the house and do laundry on Saturdays. Not fun!

Though I had planned to have three weeks to a month of being at home (setting up the nursery, cooking and freezing multitudes of meals, packing a suitcase for the hospital, etc.) before our daughter arrived on the scene, that didn't happen! Instead, my poor husband had to run his business and try to set up a nursery corner in our bedroom while trying to deal with a wife crying her eyes out because she couldn't "nest" properly!

As I previously posted, I spend the first forty days of our daughter's life resting and caring for Baby Bear. The most I did (home-keeping wise) was to sort through gifts, organize baby clothing and miscellaneous items, and write thank you notes to generous family and friends. I also tried to plan for my husband's ordination, our baby's baptism, and a move to a new state. Most of this planning was taking care of invitations, rsvps, and task delegation.

Once our forty days were completed and the ordination and baptism were safely behind us, packing and moving commenced. As a result of this, I pretty much did no deep cleaning and very little involved cooking.

In order to keep things as organized as possible, I devised a Daily Routine that I blogged about a few months ago. I found this to be so helpful that I still use this routine now (though I tweak it a bit every so often). Basically, my homemaking philosophy is to spend as much quality time as possible with the baby while maintaining a clean and tidy home that celebrates the five senses (touch, taste, scent, sound, and sight). In addition, since we are a priest family, there are always things that come up during the week (church, social engagements, etc.) that "disrupt" our schedule. I try to keep things as flexible as possible so that life doesn't fall apart if we have to do something unexpected.

I know that there are many mothers who have much better homemaking schedules than I did/do. If you have one to share, please leave a comment! It is wonderful to be able to read about other ways to do things... I often find great ideas to implement in my own life in this way!

A Lady's Education...

Coffee Wife of The Walled Garden blog, has recently begun a series on A Lady's Education, which I believe you will find interesting. The subject of education for keepers at home is one that is near and dear to my heart. Coffee Wife has done an excellent job of listing different subjects and practical applications that a woman desirous of an ladylike education can pursue.

Monday, April 16

40 Days...

It is traditional in the Orthodox Church for women who have just given birth to observe a period of forty days of rest and recuperation at home. As with everything, there are not only practical, but also theological reasons for this which I won't go into on this blog. Though many women no longer practice the forty days, I did and enjoyed it enormously.

During my forty days, the only reason I left our apartment was to go to doctor's appointments. My husband and our family did all of the grocery shopping and errand-running. The baby and I didn't go to church, the mall, the salon, etc. I didn't do any housework or laundry (other than a little tidying) and didn't do much cooking (we mainly ate foods that people sent over to us or easily prepared foods like sandwiches, salads, grilled foods, etc.

What I did do was centered on our baby. I worked on nursing and caring for our new daughter, I bonded with her, read to her, napped with her, sang to her, and just got used to being a mama without feeling pressured to jump back into a hectic life.

It was a wonderful time and contrary to popular belief, not boring at all! In fact, once our 40 days were over, I felt rested and ready to add homemaking to my list of daily activities. I was ready to go out and go to church, the shops, or to people's homes. I felt more confident in my mothering abilities because I was starting to really know our baby and what she needed and wanted.

Obviously, taking 40 days to recuperate is not always possible... especially if your husband is unable to take time off from work or if you have other small children. However, I really encourage new mothers to make the most of the first few weeks of their baby's life and remove as much responsibility for unnecessary intrusions into that time... and yes, that means church, dishes, laundry, sweeping, cooking, and anything else that takes you from your rest and your new baby!

Note: If you know a woman who is about to give birth or has just given birth, help out! Make a few meals, watch her older children, buy paper plates and plastic cups, and utensils to ease the washing up burden, offer to run some errands, rock the baby while mama takes a long bath, clean a bit, or do a few loads of laundry... the possibilities are endless!

Ladette to Lady...

While flipping through the channels tonight, I came upon a program that I wish that I had known about sooner on the Sundance channel. It is called Ladette to Lady. It is a British reality show about modern girls becoming a proper ladies after going through an old-fashioned finishing school's curriculum.

Here are highlights from the five episode series:

Episode One
  • The girls are shoehorned into the Eggleston Hall uniform: a tight-fitting tweed suit, sensible shoes and pearl necklace and introduced to the curriculum: deportment, elocution, needlework, flower arranging and cookery.
  • They've got just four days to prepare for their first big test: a shooting party at Burton Agnes, one of Yorkshire's finest country estates, at which they will be expected to show what they've learnt at Finishing School so far, and in particular how to behave around gentlemen.
Episode Two
  • At the start of their second week at Finishing School seven ladettes are faced with a daunting challenge: The ladettes must create quail and pheasant ravioli; nine bird roast with dauphine potatoes; and sherry trifle and langues du chat. Under the fearsome tutelage of cookery teacher Rosemary Shrager, the girls – none of whom can even cook scrambled eggs – have got just five days to master some of the hardest techniques in haut cuisine.
  • Liz Brewer, Egglestone Hall's etiquette teacher considers the forthcoming event: “The whole objective is to actually make yourself attractive and desirable to these young men that are coming to dinner.” “You've got to be sexy, but not obvious. Titillating but not tacky.”
  • Assessing the girls, Liz quickly realizes that this might be their biggest obstacle and the group are all packed off for a mini makeover in order to make themselves appear more presentable and feminine.
Episode Three
  • This week the ladettes get the chance to be chalet girls in Verbier, one of Switzerland's most prestigious ski resorts. Being a chalet girl was a rite of passage for Finishing School graduates... The ladettes soon discover that being a chalet girl is no holiday. They'll have to prepare gourmet meals on an extremely tight budget, keep the chalet in impeccable condition and play hostess to eight demanding men.
  • Meanwhile at Eggleston Hall, scouser Louise Porter, Chelsea Fan Laura Hearsum and barmaid Rebecca Squire have been set an unforgiving timetable of deportment, elocution and flower-arranging lessons.
Episode Four
  • This week the teachers leave the five ladettes alone at Eggleston Hall to host a country house weekend. They will be provided with domestic staff including a butler and must lay on two days of well-planned hospitality for a selection of eligible bachelors. According to Debrett's Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners “At its best the country house weekend probably represents the pinnacle of Anglo Saxon culture; at its worst it can be torture beyond compare for all concerned”. Leaving the ladettes in charge of Eggleston Hall is a huge gamble and there's little sign they are up to the challenge.
Episode Five
  • Wearing dresses they have made Eggleston Hall the ladettes will each make an entrance and be judged on their poise, grooming, confidence and elocution by a selection of aristocrats.
  • Iin addition to preparing for the Ball the girls must pass exams in all subjects in order to graduate. They've got just four days left to perfect their flower-arranging, elocution, deportment, and to make a gigantic seven-tiered cake which will be on display at the ball threatening to collapse spectacularly if they get it wrong.
Warning: The ladies on this show can be very crude. I don't recommend watching this program with children.

Sunday, April 15

April 15th...

It's time for another Commitment to Loveliness! This is a fun way to increase femininity and beauty in our lives each week without even trying! All you have to do is choose five things that you would like to work on or do during the week that will increase the loveliness in your life!

Here is my list for this week:

1. Organize the baby's closet and sort through clothing that she's outgrown.

2. Catch up on thank you notes.

3. Use Spring Rain products daily.

4. Begin planting window box flowers for deck (weather permitting!).

5. Get back in the groove after our trip (routines, cooking, etc.)

Once you have chosen five simple things, post them on your blog and link to this post in your post, and then post the direct link to your Commitment to Loveliness post below. If you do not have a blog, but have a commitment to share, please post them in the comments section.

I look forward to reading how others are celebrating their Commitment to Loveliness!

Vintage Fashions 1940...

Monday, April 9

Packing a Suitcase...

Christ is Risen!
Since we will be away for most of the week visiting our families (which is why I chose this cute little video!), posting may be a little sparse! I hope that you all have a blessed Bright Week!

Saturday, April 7

Welcome to Holland...

When I was a public school teacher in an all-inclusive first grade classroom, I used to read this essay, by Emily Perl Kingsley, often... for inspiration and patience:

"I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland."

1987 copyright by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved.

Paschal Homily by Saint John Chrysostom...

If any man be devout and loveth God,
Let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast!

If any man be a wise servant,
Let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord.

If any have laboured long in fasting,
Let him how receive his recompense.
If any have wrought from the first hour,
Let him today receive his just reward.
If any have come at the third hour,
Let him with thankfulness keep the feast.
If any have arrived at the sixth hour,
Let him have no misgivings;
Because he shall in nowise be deprived therefore.
If any have delayed until the ninth hour,
Let him draw near, fearing nothing.
And if any have tarried even until the eleventh hour,
Let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness.

For the Lord, who is jealous of his honour,
Will accept the last even as the first.
He giveth rest unto him who cometh at the eleventh hour,
Even as unto him who hath wrought from the first hour.
And He showeth mercy upon the last,
And careth for the first;
And to the one He giveth,
And upon the other He bestoweth gifts.
And He both accepteth the deeds,
And welcometh the intention,
And honoureth the acts and praises the offering.

Wherefore, enter ye all into the joy of your Lord;
Receive your reward,
Both the first, and likewise the second.
You rich and poor together, hold high festival!
You sober and you heedless, honour the day!
Rejoice today, both you who have fasted
And you who have disregarded the fast.
The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously.
The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.
Enjoy ye all the feast of faith:
Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness.

Let no one bewail his poverty,
For the universal Kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one weep for his iniquities,
For pardon has shown forth from the grave.
Let no one fear death,
For the Saviour's death has set us free.
He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it.

By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive.
He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh.
And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry:
Hell, said he, was embittered
When it encountered Thee in the lower regions.

It was embittered, for it was abolished.
It was embittered, for it was mocked.
It was embittered, for it was slain.
It was embittered, for it was overthrown.
It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains.
It took a body, and met God face to face.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?

Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
For Christ, being risen from the dead,
Is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be glory and dominion
Unto ages of ages.


The Paschal sermon of St John Chrysostom is read aloud in every Orthodox parish on the morning of the Great and Holy Pascha Jesus Christ.

According to the tradition of the Church, no one sits during the reading of St John's sermon, but all stand and listen with attentiveness.

Tuesday, April 3

Our Pascha Baskets....

Here is the basket that I decorated last year. It was great to see it again ! I am getting pretty excited about filling it will goodies (i.e. MEAT!).

This is the basket that I decorated for the baby. Though it is very simple in comparison to our family's basket, I couldn't resist the blue flower bunches and I love how the basket looks with ours! Though Baby Bear dislikes Gerber chicken baby food (who wouldn't!), we're thinking about putting a jar in for some laughs!

Palm Sunday...

The Cross We Worked on Last Week...

"Faithfully" - Tribute to Jane Austen films

Okay, I know that it isn't Sunday, but I couldn't resist this video... especially with this song!

Monday, April 2

April 1st...

It's time for another Commitment to Loveliness! This is a fun way to increase femininity and beauty in our lives each week without even trying! All you have to do is choose five things that you would like to work on or do during the week that will increase the loveliness in your life!

Here is my list for this week:

1. Take a walk every day (provided there is no rain).

2. Paint a picture.

3. Purchase goodies for our Pascha baskets

4. Visit the local thrift shop and see if there are any treasures awaiting me.

5. Prepare our Easter outfits for wearing.

Once you have chosen five simple things, post them on your blog and link to this post in your post, and then post the direct link to your Commitment to Loveliness post below. If you do not have a blog, but have a commitment to share, please post them in the comments section.

I look forward to reading how others are celebrating their Commitment to Loveliness!

Sunday, April 1

A Tribute to Old-Fashioned Girls...

I am desperate to know all of the movies pictured in this video!
Leave a comment if you can shed some light on any!

Here are the ones I caught:

Pride and Prejudice (A&E)
The Anne Series (Sullivan Entertainment)
Sense and Sensibility (Sony)
Emma (Miramax)
The Importance of Being Earnest (Miramax)

Where I've Been...

We've been up to quite a lot these past few days! I am hoping to get a few pictures up of some of the projects that have been undertaken: Baby's Pascha basket, a large wooden cross for Holy Week, and bouquets of palms and pussy willows for Palm Sunday (84 of them!). Here's hoping that this week will be less hectic. Somehow, I doubt it!
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