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Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Yarn Along: Mad May!

This month, I'm participating in Mad(elineTosh) May, and I'm trying to get a child's sweater and a loosely knit sweater for me. The Michaelmas sweater is a citizen from the Island of Misfit Knitwear from this past fall. I resubmitted it this spring when there was a call it seemed to match, but they had double the normal submissions, and it was a child's garment, which is always a tighter competition. In any case, I'm writing up the pattern for four child sizes, 2 - 8, right now and hope to have three baby sizes to add to it this summer. The goal is to have the pattern written, sweater knit in two sizes, and the pattern tech edited, then knit by previewers by August. I'd like to be able to release it before Michaelmas. We shall see.

This is the beginning of the sweater I had to frog, because the directions give you a funnel neck instead of the wide, almost boat, neck pictured with the pattern. Bleh. I've switched to a pattern that is almost identical, only written better.

I'd like to finish a lace scarf as a gift as well, and I am working on Amira, because I'm not happy with the design quite as it is, and I have a sock on needles (one of which broke, by the way) I would like to complete, so the pair will be finished, but those may not be completed in the month of May.

Rich and I may have an opportunity to go to Paris next year, so I have instituted a pretty strict yarn diet. I'm even cancelling my yarn club with Paradise. Since I have more than enough yarn and patterns, not to mention design ideas, to work through over the next year (or six), this won't be that bad, really, it's just that all the pretty things are tempting. I have the last two shipments from the Magnolia Society Sweater Club coming, and a package of yarn from Mr. Yarn closing (which made me want to cry), and a purchase from someone's stash reduction, for a specific yarn I was looking for already. I have made an allowance for one other yarn I am looking for rather specifically, and if I absolutely need something for a design, I will buy it, but the goal is to work from what I already have. I want to be able to get wonderful things in Paris, if we do end up going.

My reading this week has been much less thoughtful and much more brain candy. I'm reading a tiny bit in a happy, little, murder mystery, The Suspicion at Sanditon, which satisfies both my love for Jane Austen and cozy mysteries. Mostly, I have been watching Jeeves and Wooster and Grantchester instead of reading.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On, and The Philosopher's Wife.

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Monday, May 02, 2016

Stitch Fix Number Seven

A big thank you to everyone who has signed up using my referral link! I so appreciate the credits, as they allow me to get these more frequently than I thought I would initially. If you are interested in learning more, I wrote about my first experience on the blog, and you can do a search on my Stitch Fix posts.

This box was so much better, which made me happy. I still only kept two things, but I loved a lot about the things in the box, instead of being disappointed. Rich was stressed out from projects at home and frustrated with things that weren't going the way he wanted with them, and I wasn't feeling really well when we did the pictures, so we were kind of off our photographer/model game. I feel like I wasn't that photogenic in these, but you get the idea of the clothes.

Items #1 Brixon Ivy Rolfe Knit Back Top - $54
& #2 Kut from the Kloth Siena Cropped Pant - $58

The shirt was fine, I liked it enough, but I didn't love it, and I wished it had cap or flutter sleeves. Besides, I didn't want to spend that much on a sleeveless top. Nope.

The pants were so much better than last time, and they had about a billion fasteners on them, so I know she listened. However, they were low rise, which means that the "waist" measurement was perfect for my waist, but not my hips, which is where the pants sat on me. The reason I'm wearing this top with those pants is because of how unattractive my waist looked in the pants. Technically, they fit, in that I could get them on and still breathe, but not nicely. I had to sent them back, which made me sad. I loved the color and they were perfect for spring and early summer here.

Items #3 Maggie London Ema Crepe V-Neck Dress - $118

I loved the color on this, and the neckline, which you can't really see in this picture, it was folded as well as a v-neck. It was interesting to me that the main color appeared more teal/turquoise than the peach/pink it appeared in the box. I really liked how it looked like a floral watercolor. However, it was entirely polyester/nylon, the zipper was plastic, had something weird with it where it attached to one part of the fabric and, for over $100, that wasn't okay, so it went back.

Item #4 Pixley June Polka Dot Skirt - $58

Polka dots almost always win here. Rich loves me in polka dots. Also, this pencil skirt has a nice kick vent in the back, and is pretty slimming. It's cotton and lovely, and obviously was kept.

Item #5 London Times Braedyn Lace Dress - $98

The color and fit on this are so gorgeous, and the lace over the dress was wonderful, almost vintage looking. I really loved this dress, and Rich said he was so glad I was keeping it. His work is having an anniversary hangar dance this summer, and he asked if I would wear it to that.

This box was a success. Not everything was a winner, but everything had some aspect about it that I either loved or liked enough. If the pants had fit, and the floral dress had been even a blend with natural fibers, I would have kept the entire box, even though I wasn't absolutely in love with the sleeveless top. In the future, I will be looking for necklines like that dress and the big, watercolor floral pattern, as well as that turquoise color. Again, it's the details that really sell me on an item, and the way the pattern lined up on the skirt, and the kick vent, so I wasn't hobbled, as well as the lace overlay and fit of the dress were really great.

I won't be getting a new fix for quite some time, perhaps for Christmas, but not because of anything to do with dissatisfaction with this box (or even the previous one), but rather because we are saving money for a possible trip to Paris next year, and I'm cutting everything non-essential for myself and the family. However, if you are interested in trying Stitch Fix for yourself, I encourage you to give it a shot. It's been a fun treat for me, and a way to help me refine and define my personal style. I'd encourage you also to do as I do, and get rid of something you don't love or that doesn't fit for every item you keep. And if you try it, I get a credit, which means that more money goes toward my trip to Paris (I haven't been out of the country since I was 14) and the fun things I can experience and bring back from there. I promise I'll post pictures.

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Sunday, May 01, 2016

Menu Plan: May 1 - 7

We have an incredibly busy week this week. There is a homeschool formal dance this weekend, and I am on the planning committee and, by the way, doing a bit of the food preparations, plus our normal schedule, plus ballet and baseball, plus a monthly neighborhood meeting Rich has, plus a field trip, plus I'm taking one of the days Rich usually drives the kids to activities, because he is studying for an exam for some further education for his work. Oh, and Ascension Day is Thursday. I'm already tired. There are going to be a lot of nights that the kids are making dinner, and a lot of easy and quick meals to prep. The day after the dance, we are going to crash, eat leftovers and have cocktails (those of us who worked on it and chaperoned it - Rich volunteered to chaperone on the condition that he would also get to eat the food). This week, I am thankful that our kids can take care of themselves, each other, and can cook!

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Menu Along: April 24 - 30

We took a road trip this weekend, because our bishop was visiting a church in our communion, and stayed with the priest and his wife there. I spent our trip re-doing and re-doing and re-doing the calculations for the short row neck shaping on Amira. I'm still not really happy about how they are working out, and may mess with two of the sizes again, anyway. Most of my actual knitting was on the scarf portion of Marine Layer, though. You can see that above. The way I've designed it, if you want to make the scarf a little longer, you can, but if not, you can make a second set of the mitts, with the colors reversed, and have two ways to wear your set.

Also, the Peace Out, Eugene, Unicorn Dandruff Cowl has an owner now. Our priest's wife wears colors like this, and it was her birthday, so I gave it to her. She looked lovely in it, and it fit her personality, and she doesn't even live in Eugene. I forgot to get a picture of her in it, of course.

So, funny story: As we were leaving their house toward church, Rich said, "Hey, I think that sign said yarn!" When we were heading back, he said that he would turn around and look at it again, but as he got my hopes up, if it said yard or something else, he would make sure I was able to pick up yarn somewhere else. Well, he was right. However, we had an opportunity to go to breakfast with both our priest and his wife and our bishop and his wife, and then drive over to our old home and visit with friends of ours, the husband is a close friend of Rich's and turns 90 tomorrow, so we had no time to shop for yarn. It was so worth it to spend time with them, that I didn't mind at all. I love that Rich keeps his eyes open for yarn signs, though. It turns out that this is Crown Mountain Fibers, which I had heard about from some knitting podcasts, and never realized was based in our state. Now I know to schedule time to visit on our next trip.

I have done no reading on my own this week, but Rich asked me to bring along Theology of the Body in Simple Language for us to read together. We started it almost a year ago, but never read through the entire book, and since we had been reading it together, we neither of us read it on our own. So, I read aloud several chapters while he drove on our trip this weekend, and it gave us lots to discuss. He also asked me to bring along One Flesh to cover the Orthodox position, but we never finished the first. I've read just the beginning of it, though, and it looks to be a great book, so it will be our next marriage book. With the exception of the references to the doctrine of Original Sin in Theology of the Body, which we simply mentally replace with Ancestral Sin or concupiscence, however, neither book is strictly Catholic/Western or Orthodox/Eastern. Both are the Church's teachings on marriage, rather than a particular church's teaching, and both are valuable. Even just taking the time to read and discuss these ideas brought us closer together, and really has given us new eyes with which to appreciate each other and our marriage. The books are also full of lenses that help focus one's view correctly and realign oneself to the right path with regard to marriage. I highly recommend them both. Even only having read the introduction and first chapter of One Flesh.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On, and The Philosopher's Wife.

We left for our priest's house immediately following Jerome's baseball parade and opening ceremonies on Saturday and joined them for dinner. It was nice to have a relaxed breakfast with them on Sunday morning, and Rich and I had a great conversation touching on theological and practical elements of our faith with our priest until late in the night. As my hand/skin has been giving me so much trouble, we also had him and our bishop pray for my health after the Eucharist. They prayed and anointed me with the oil of chrismation, which was wonderful. Our bishop spoke so well and gave us much to think on, and then to be able to receive the Eucharist with our church body was such a blessing to us. We don't take it for granted now that we can so rarely receive as a family at church.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Yarn Along: Virtual Baby Shower

This project was made entirely for the delight of making it, and has already appeared on the blog as a finished object, with the hopes that there would be a mother of a baby girl who would like it as a gift and not mind having to hand wash it (or put it on the wool/hand wash cycle in the washing machine) and dry it flat. So, basically, a knitter.

Who should be pregnant, but our yarn along hostess, and what better way to celebrate her new little one than with a whole interwebs' worth of knit and crocheted (sewn and embroidered?) gifts? Many blessings to you and your babe, Ginny, I pray for a safe and healthy delivery of your daughter and many years to her! This is sized for a one year old (maybe up to 18 months), so it can be something you pull out after all the wee, little, things are grown out of and put away. I really wanted to get a photo of Entrechat on an actual infant, but I forgot to snag one at our homeschool picnic, and Nejat is too big for this. God bless you and enjoy your virtual baby shower!

I have another FO to share. We named this the Peace Out, Eugene, Unicorn Dandruff Cowl. Now I need to find someone in Eugene who wants it. This was a Paradise club color, and I have this same colorway in a fingering, plied, yarn (a previous month's shipment), which I much prefer. Somehow it wasn't so tie-dyed/eye searing on a smaller scale. I had intended to make a crocheted shawl with this, but the instructions were more than I could decipher, so I chose an easy, garter stitch, mindless, quick project, and finished it in a day and a half. It is a gift waiting for the right recipient. My other knitting looks very much like it did last time I shared it, so I didn't even bother to take pictures.

Paradise Fibers' April Club Yarn, of Yarn Fairy Manderley in Gothic

Here is this month's Paradise Yarn Club package. I really like this colorway, and have a shawl in mind, but reserve the right to wait and change my mind, since I won't likely get to it any time soon.

As for reading, I finished A Christian Ending, and can recommend it completely, with two quibbles. I normally don't share children's books, but Into the Sea, Out of the Tomb: Jonah and Jesus was so wonderful, that I have to tell everyone to go read it. Read it to your children, read it for yourselves, it is a beautiful book.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On, and The Philosopher's Wife.

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Menu Plan: April 17 - 23

We had an incredibly busy weekend. Our Friday was pretty clear, except for errands, but Saturday we began with a homeschool roller skating event, then a produce co-op delivery, then we had our dance lessons that night. Instead of resting after church on Sunday, we drove an hour to pick up bee packets to replace ours which died in the hard freeze this winter, and to get some for friends who want to begin bee keeping.

We've been so full with ballet and baseball and committee meetings for a homeschool formal dance that we're holding in May that it's been hard to have any normalcy with meals. Almost every night, no matter the schedule, we still eat together as a family, but sometimes that means we are eating dinner at 8:00. I began hosting a knitting lesson and knit night at our home this month and forgot about Rich's monthly meetings for a neighborhood group (kind of like a grange) that meets the same night of the week. So, last week, this meant that Rich had to get Mariam, Yasmina, and Amira to dance, Jerome to a baseball game, and get everyone back to be kicked out of the van to eat dinner so he could get to the meeting, a half hour late, all while I was making dinner, cleaning, trying to get the other kids in bed, and preparing for my class/gathering, then hosting and teaching while getting the latecomers their dinner, and trying to get them to do their chores, clean up and go to bed. We've decided that in May and June, we will cancel the knit night on his meeting nights, because not having him around to wrangle kids while I do my thing with the ladies and having him have to do all the driving on that night, when I normally can do some of it, or at least pick kids up, was way too much. Anyway, we're exhausted and scaling back where we can this week. Which isn't that much. However, fortunately, Jerome only has two games and no practices this week, which makes our driving schedule a little less hectic.

There are a couple repeats this week and then a busy weekend ahead again. We were hoping to get some rest next weekend, when there are no classes, games, dances, field trips, errands to far off places, or anything like that, but then I realized that's when Elijah's belated birthday party is supposed to be. So, maybe in July we'll get a rest.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Yarn Along: Misfit Edition

Not the picture I sent, because it wasn't as bright and clear, but I loved the way the colors looked in this one.

One of my submissions had a response last week. I was so excited, because usually a quick reply means a yes. Alas, it was a no. Rich looked at my proposal and asked how anyone could say no to that face. Well, they have three times now (in fact, Amira, which is with my knitters to preview, is one of the designs they've turned down). I'm still waiting to hear about the second proposal. While it's never nice to get a rejection, honestly, I think these designs are solid. I design the kind of things that I would wear, or my kids would wear, or my husband would wear. And I think we have reasonably decent taste and style. So, I just put them back in my files and either fiddle with them a little or work on them as is to publish myself or send to another call.

I'm nearly finished with A Christian Ending and motivated to get all sorts of things prepared and talk to our priest about starting a ministry at our church to serve this kind of need. I finished Knitlandia. It was a fun read, but it would have been nice to get it through our library, rather than buying it. No new books yet, but probably something more like brain candy.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On, and The Philosopher's Wife.

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Menu Plan: April 10 - 16

Blessings to you all in this Paschaltide!

I went to my doctor and she said that since I had a flare up in my hand while smack dab in the middle of not eating any of the allergen foods (and since those allergies are, she is certain, secondary reactions simply because my body is reactive right now), that I could go back to eating any of them I wished. This is thrilling to me. That's the good news. I am still having problems with my health, however, and have other problems that don't seem to be related to this one, and we're trying to get to the bottom of both, which have been ongoing for over a year now. The skin issues will be a year in about a month, the other issues have probably been around for nearly two years. I am in pain, exhausted, and discouraged, and could use some prayer. It is a little blessing that I can eat things like real cake again, though. I wish I'd gone to my doctor earlier, then I would have been able to eat the delicious cookies a woman at church makes for coffee hour.

Since I can eat normally again, Rich suggested a gut bomb pizza dinner to celebrate. This particular pizza parlor puts so many toppings on their pizzas that we actually make two other pizza doughs at home and bake them with sauce and cheese and the extra toppings to make that much more pizza. We have a ton left. So, we may be eating pizza for several days. We also had our first glean of the year, and so we have a million carrots. We are peeling, chopping and freezing a bunch in our vacuum sealed bags for cooking later, and we've filled one of our vegetable drawers in the fridge with them for us to use and eat now. All the greens are going to our chickens and turkeys, and whatever we don't finish processing or use will go to them, too, and they will become eggs and meat for us, so it's not a waste.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Stitch Fix Number Six

A big thank you to everyone who has signed up using my referral link! I so appreciate the credits, as they allow me to get these more frequently than I thought I would initially. If you are interested in learning more, I wrote about my first experience on the blog, and you can do a search on my Stitch Fix posts.

This was the first box I've received that actually kind of disappointed me. I only kept one item, and it wasn't because the others were things I liked/loved, but were not quite right in some way. I just didn't really like most of the other items. This fix actually came in February and I'm only now getting around to posting it. Part of that was our busy life and how sick we all got and Holy Week and travel and so on, but mostly it's because I couldn't get that excited about it. I'm giving them another shot this month, so I'm really hoping to see something much better. There were two items I might have kept had they been better designed/constructed in this box, but they weren't and I don't want to pay retail for something that isn't just right. One thing I was particularly disappointed in was the quality of their in-house lines. I understand that having in-house designs cuts their costs and can, potentially, cut the customer's cost while still keeping their profit high. I don't have a problem with that. It was the fact that patterns weren't lined up, seams weren't sewn properly, there were visible flaws. That should go to a TJ Maxx or Ross type store, where you get a steep discount, rather than coming as a curated style box at retail prices.

Item #1 Fate Rowen Faux Leather Quilted Vest - $78

I hate faux leather. And I didn't like the whole SnM vibe this gave off. Not my style at all. I did ask for a quilted vest, but I asked for bright colors. (I was thinking more royal blue, emerald green, ruby red, something like that). The slash pockets were good and the zippers were metal instead of plastic, which I do love, and if it were real leather (which would have cost more, but I removed all price limits some time back) and without that belt at the neck business, it might have tempted me away from the brighter color desire. But, no.

Items #2 Margaret M Emer Printed Straight Leg Pant - $98

& #3 Amour Vert Norma Split Neck Silk Blouse - $118

I asked for coral or melon colored pants. I even liked this color and, sort of, liked the print. But there was no closure whatsoever on them. Which meant that elastic and plenty of fabric was needed to get them over any woman's hips, let alone a woman who has been pregnant nine times and had six c-sections. It sagged around and emphasized the c-section belly in a way that nobody wants to see. These needed a side zipper and hook so it could lie flat and tight against the belly, or even a front fly with zipper and button, or something. They were also a bit too long, and I have specified the length I need pants to be in my style profile. I don't need elastic band pants at this price, either. Had these been made with a little more style in mind, I would have kept them, and worn them with heels.

The blouse had that gorgeous royal blue going for it, and it was silk. However, I wasn't entirely sold on the print, and the neck band seam was sewn wrong. We took the picture in a way that you can't see it, really. I wish we'd taken a shot of it that just showed the weird, sticking out, sewn badly neck band. Again, this was one of their in-house brands, and it was sorely disappointing to have flaws in brand new, retail examples. Pass.

Item #4 Loveappella Jina Back Slit Knit Top - $54

This is the only thing I kept. Honestly, though I really like the teal color, it was more because I didn't want to lose my styling fee and it was fine enough. I liked it. I didn't love it. There is a slit in the back, which is cute, but I have to fiddle with it a bit if my hair is not down to make sure that my bra doesn't show. So, that's a little too wide of a slit for so buxom a woman. I can't exactly wear it without one, and they don't make industrial strength strapless numbers for women of my bra size. And I don't want to wear a strapless bra to wear a shirt. So, I wear this with jeans and skirts and keep my hair down. Which means you don't really see that slit, anyway. But, it is cute enough, and I can wear it while running around with kids, so it works. Because I had some credits (thank you again!), it only cost me $4.

Item #5 Market & Spruce Corinna Striped Dolman Top - $48

I actually really liked this top. It was a dark slate/navy blue with white stripes, I thought the dolman sleeve was flattering (more than I thought it would be), and it was fitted at the waist, which showed that I actually have a nice shape. But the stripes didn't line up on the tops of the sleeves. Obviously. I even liked the diagonal/chevron thing that was going with the stripes on top of the sleeves, but having them not meet drove me crazy. This, too, was from their in-house brands. So, I sent it back.

Details are important to me. I've mentioned before how details have sold me on a piece sent, but this time it was the details that turned me off. I definitely would have bought the pants and this top, had they been designed better and made properly, which means I would have spent another $146 on this box, which means they lost those sales. I hope the higher up types listen to the comments I made to my stylist about the in-house brands. Rich was actually surprised that I kept anything. He figured that, especially with the credits covering the styling fee, I'd just send it all back. I did need more tops, though, and I like that length sleeve for fall through early summer, as well as the color. Even though this one wasn't successful, I am going to give them another shot. If I have another one that is this far off for me, I may either wait much longer, or decide to stop for a while. This is a splurge for me, and a successful box, in my opinion, doesn't have to be filled with 100% winners. But there should be at least one thing I love, and other things that might work, and that I like. I didn't have that enough in this one. My next fix is scheduled to arrive in two weeks, so we shall see.

In some ways, the more I do this, the more I get to know what I like and don't like and my own personal sense of style, so I am more willing to say no if an item doesn't fit that. I've learned more about styles that work for me, thanks to my stylist sending things I wouldn't have picked myself, and I've learned how much the details really matter to me. That has been valuable, even without considering the items I've kept that I love. I'm hoping my comments and other people's comments to them will help improve the choices, and definitely improve their own brands.

If you are interested in trying Stitch Fix for yourself, I encourage you to give it a shot. It's been a fun treat for me, and a way to help me refine and define my personal style. I'd encourage you also to do as I do, and get rid of something you don't love or that doesn't fit for every item you keep.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Yarn Along: Submit and Receive

Most of what I've been knitting I can't share here, but I'm still plugging away on my Marine Layer scarf.

Amira is being sent to my knitters in the next couple days! I'm hoping to have it ready to publish in about six weeks. I've also sent in two submissions for consideration, so I would appreciate your prayers for their success. Again, please like Arabian Knits Designs on Facebook, if you haven't already. Thank you!

I have three yarn club shipments to share. One of them I forgot to post about in February, so I'm sharing it now. Also, as we were traveling last week, I visited a yarn shop and picked up some souvenir yarn, as is my habit. One of the yarns I picked up was a huge score, I was able to get four skeins of silk ribbon yarn for the price of one of them - enough for a summer top.

Elemental Effects Cormo in Coastal Fog was Paradise Fibers' February Yarn Club offering and exclusive color. It is soft and squishy, and I have a cabled hat planned for it.

This yarn makes me so happy. It is Maine Made Frolicking Feet in Scarlet Bugler, which was the Paradise Fibers' March offering and exclusive colorway. I have it set aside for Fire Thief

I can't seem to get this color right with my poor photography skills. It is a red-pink, but it isn't nearly as bright as this looks, and is more like a red that leans pink with tonal variations, than a pink that is vibrant with variegation. Anyway, it is my Magnolia Society Sweater Club shipment for March, Madelinetosh Limited Edition Super Soft DK in Afterglow. I am going to make Raindance with it.

From Left to Right: Alchemy: Yarns of Transformation Silken Straw in Blood Orange for a summer sweater for me, The Loom Risoni Silk in Brick for a shawlette for a friend, and Berroco Captiva in Honey for a design I have in mind in the future.

Amira and I finished If You Love Me, Let Me Go this week. I read a little out of A Christian Ending while we were out of town. Also, like all other knitters right now, I am reading Knitlandia. I like it, but there are parts that kind of irritate me. Like how she said that Madrona has been in Tacoma since 1999. I lived in Gig Harbor the year they started, and I went to it every year we lived there. They moved to Tacoma in 2006. I know that East Coast people think that everything on the west coast is Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and, if we are really lucky, maybe San Diego, so even mentioning Tacoma was probably a big stretch, but really. I'm a little annoyed that she felt like she had to include some nods to particular political and social views, especially because it really had nothing to do with the essay topics. So, I'm nearly finished with it, and while I am enjoying most of it, I think I will either sell it or trade it on Paperback Swap.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On, and The Philosopher's Wife.

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Monday, April 04, 2016

Menu Plan: End of the Paschal Octave

Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

The translation should say: Christ is risen from amongst the dead, defeating/conquering death by death.

I meant to post our menu for last week, but we were so busy with our corporate worship and our family preparations, that it just didn't happen. I do have several recipes from our feast that I hope to have posted in the next couple weeks, however.

Although our feast is over now, the season still has six more weeks, and we are enjoying this Paschaltide, especially now that most of us aren't sick at all anymore. Rich and I spent part of last week at a work conference, and though we always take Holy Week and Bright Week as our spring break, Alexander had to go to school last week. We also were able to eat with friends all weekend, which was nice, and gave us a chance to visit with people we love. We're back in the game this week, and back to our normal fasting patterns. Since I got dairy back for our Paschal feast (I chose what to return to first based on what I missed the most), I'm taking one more week without the other foods, and I think we'll get to try eggs again for me next week. So far, there was no difference made with the dairy or without, but it's been so good to have it to eat again.

Blessings to you all in this Paschaltide!

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up.

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Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday Meditations from the Beginning of Lent

In some ways this is a travel diary told in pictures. However, we saw and heard things that very much were lessons found in Good Friday.

As I mentioned before, in January, we were invited to a friend's surprise 40th birthday party. Though we were flattered to be invited, it was in the Bay Area, which is a good 15 hour drive from here and airfare for 10 is not really feasible. So, I told Rich how nice it was that we were included, but that, of course, we wouldn't be able to go. He asked me why not, and suggested that just the two of us go. Then, immediately started looking up airfare. He found a decent ticket price, but I didn't know where we would stay, so asked another friend in the area if she could let us crash for a night, and said to hold off on pulling the trigger on the ticket until I heard back. By the time she got back to me with her yes, the fares had gone up significantly, so I was back to thinking this just wouldn't happen. Rich said that the price of airfare for us would cover driving down with the kids and getting hotels. So, we did it. In four days, there and back.

It was worth it just to see the look on our friend's face, because his wife (who is also our friend) had been planning for a month and didn't breathe a word to him. Also, as you will find out in a minute, we were a little late to the party, so we came in after he'd already been surprised and thought that part of the evening was over.

We had reservations at a little motor inn near Crater Lake for Friday evening, and after driving through Central Washington, stopping at the Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner in Goldendale for linner, we worked our way south through Central Oregon. By this time it was around 7:30 p.m. And raining. And dark. And our van stopped working about 20 miles north of Madras. Which is two hours north of where our motel was. Rich got the van over to the side and tried to call our insurance for roadside assistance. But, even though he had service and battery charged, his phone was not dialing out for some reason. So, we used my phone. Oh, and did I mention that the battery was almost dead and I hadn't charged it because we were so close to our destination that I didn't think it would matter? Now I plug the charger in as soon as I get in the car, no matter what. Anyway, he could still receive calls so we gave them his number if they needed to call back. I told them about where we were and that we thought our alternator had quit (so, I couldn't even charge the phone with the engine off) and she said she could send a tow truck. We said that we'd need transportation, because we had eight children with us. She said they couldn't cover that, but that the tow company might be able to do so. We knew we couldn't get towed without having a way to get the kids somewhere safe, because it was a busy, dark, highway with loads of trucks going by, and we weren't going to have them on the side of the road without some protection.

This is the spot where we were stuck, to the left of the photo around where the mound of dirt and truck are)

Rich was getting perturbed, but God provided for us that night. Rich has a business friend who lives somewhat in the area, and he called him to ask where to get our van towed. It turned out that the man who lived next door to him owned a mechanic shop and was honest and reliable. While we were waiting for the tow truck, Rich grabbed his phone (it could still receive calls and could text), a jacket, one of the kids' flashlights and another's headlamp (they use them for reading in the car) and walked about a quarter mile down the highway, because he was sure that he'd seen what looked like a tow truck just around the bend. Glory to Christ that he has such good eyesight! It was the truckers on the road who alerted the tow truck that he was coming; they didn't see him, but the truckers did and flashed their lights, stopped so Rich could cross and get to them.

Here is where the tow truck was

They were already there, finishing up changing a tire for someone else. After Rich explained our predicament, they had him get in their truck, and just as he did, the call for the tow came from our roadside assistance people. Instead of trying to figure out where we were, they could just go where Rich told them. They called another fellow with a truck, from the company, so we could transport everyone. While this was all going on, we were also trying to find a place to stay that night. Blessedly, there was a place we had stayed during a trip to a funeral last year, and they had the same two rooms open for us, remembered us, and were pleased to give us a place (and a breakfast the following morning). Also, the lady at the place near Crater Lake didn't charge us for our missed reservation, even though we gave her only a couple hours' notice, because it wasn't our fault. So, they towed us to the hotel, we grabbed the suitcases we'd need for that night (we packed a suitcase for each night for all of us, instead of separate suitcases for us, the boys, and the girls, which worked pretty well) and our toiletries and diaper bag, and they took our van to the mechanic's.

The mechanic wasn't even open on Saturdays, but Rich's friend called him, as well as his having the call from the towing company, and he already had a special job to do that day, but because he knew we were stuck and running late, he did our van at 7:00 that morning, and made sure to get it done right away. So, we left only an hour later than we had planned. Though we were still an hour and a half or two north of where we wanted to start.

We crossed into California and meandered around Mount Shasta, all of us dressed for the party that evening, because our plan to stop at our hotel first, unpack, change and then head over was gone now, with our delay. I painted my nails, base coat, two coats of polish and top coat, while we drove down the windy freeway between trucks and other mountain traffic.

Guests were supposed to arrive at the party about 45 minutes before the birthday boy was to be there, but we ended up coming about an hour after he'd already been surprised. At that point, we just wanted to wait long enough not to ruin the surprise.

I found it funny that we ended up arranging the couples Arab, Arab, German, German. That was not deliberate.

We were able to attend liturgy with them the following morning. They attend a beautiful Antiochian Orthodox church, with the service half in Arabic and half in English. It was a moving service and Rich and I so enjoyed worshiping with them, and being able to share in the beauty of the church, of the liturgy and music, and feast our eyes on the icons and iconostasis there. It was wonderful that Arabic was assumed when we came in, people spoke to us in Arabic and people thought I was Iraqi. Our children had a great time with a church full of kids that looked like them (and Nejat taught the boy behind us to bump fists), there was a beautiful community of Ethiopians there as well. You could pick out the different countries of origin and dialects, too. I wish I had gotten photos of the exterior of the church, but we forgot to have family pictures taken of us with our friends. But that was not the church that had been built there originally.

In the time immediately following the 9-11 attacks, some miscreant or miscreants had decided that since all these people spoke Arabic and there was Arabic on their sign, and the building had a dome on it, they must be Islamic terrorists, too. That the sign said that it was the Church of the Holy Apostles in English might have been a clue that they were Christians, at least, but I doubt there was much reading going on. Our friends said that there had been all sorts of fires and vandalism that night, and by the time the fire fighters had come, the building was completely destroyed. Only the things in these two cases displayed in the narthex of the church were left.

This case has a place of prominence. It was what was left on the altar after the fire: The crucifix, and the Gospel book, with the pages burned except for the text from Saint Matthew's Gospel,

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.

The people responsible for arson were never found. This church community, though, has taken that burned Gospel book as a sign and a lesson that they taught themselves, their children and all the people who came to their church. This is what Christ did when He was falsely arrested, falsely accused, falsely punished and crucified. This is what He did when He forgave those who killed Him. How can we do less?

So, like Christ, this church was resurrected. It is beautiful, it is welcoming, it is a place of forgiveness and mercy. And Christ is there. We were blessed to be there for just one day. Rich said that he wished we had a church like that here, both for the spiritual experience, and for the cultural experience for our family.

Here are some interior pictures of the sanctuary.

The iconostasis up front has Christ's life depicted, from the Annunciation to Pentecost.

At the base of the dome are icons of many Old Testament prophets holding scrolls of prophesy referring to Christ.

And at the top of the dome, like in all Orthodox churches, there was an icon of Christ, with angels around Him, looking down and guarding and guiding His people.

Have a blessed Good Friday, a holy Triduum, and a joyous Paschal feast!

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