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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Yarn Along: Shoulder Shrugs and Final Book Submission

While I have been busily at work making shoulder sweaters for our girls and finishing my last design submission for the book (it's finished!), Nejat has been working on her top two teeth. She cut her first two teeth on the eve of Valentine's Day, and cut her top two yesterday morning. It's been a rough time for her.

I am excited, though, because this final submission is my third for the book. When they are published, I will offer a free pattern to go with this set as well. Also, someone did have the discontinued yarn I needed, so I will be able to finish Nejat's cache-coeur in time for her birthday and get back to working on my ring around the rosy scarf.

Here are the girls in all their splendor. I did the best I could to hide the hair cutting, with hairspray and strategic combing. Poor Yasmina did the worst, though, and her hair had to be cropped pretty short to even it at all. There were tears, and I'm mourning her beautiful hair myself. I think she has learned her lesson, though.

All the girls together. A friend of mine made Amira's spencer in exchange for me knitting a jacket for her son.

Here are all the boys.

The whole family, while Yasmina was still refusing to raise her head.

Rich and I watched, several times, the movie Austenland and found it so riotously hilarious that I wanted to get the book. So, I've begun reading Austenland: A Novel. It is such a fun, campy, book. The movie seems to capture the spirit of it well, but the book, as always, is far better. Any Janeites out there who haven't read it or seen the film really should. There is a sequel, Midnight in Austenland: A Novel, which I also have on the shelf to read when I'm finished with this one.

I'm still working my way through Christ in His Saints, as my spiritual reading and still finding much to digest and apply to my life in it. If you haven't gotten this from your library or bookstore, you need to do it. You will find yourself returning to it often.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Menu Plan: April 27 - May 3

We are back on our regular schedule for fasting and abstinence and school and everything else. We have some hectic days coming up over the next month or two, with doubled up activities for our children, a friend's wedding, some travel, and more. So, I'm trying to make some of our meals easier to make, or use things I have frozen and kept for times like this.

This week we scored amazing deals on produce from our co-op and gleaning club, so we have a super abundance of fresh things to eat over the next couple weeks. Our menus will reflect that.

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 on Saturday.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Updates from the Randomizer Files

1. I'm not so sure I will be posting a photo of the kids in their Paschal finery. We had an incident with scissors yesterday. If I post the photo, it might be with their heads cropped out of the picture.

2. We need a new strategy for finding seats at the Paschal Vigil. We get there early, we don't get seats. We get there late, we don't get seats. Three of us (four with Nejat in my arms) were able to sit on the organ bench in the choir loft, everyone else stood. So, my plan for next year is to head straight to the cry room. We normally avoid that place as it was placed somewhere around the sixth circle of Hell in Dante's Inferno, but we could probably take it over, and keep the screaming, running, door slamming inmates out by our presence.

3. On that note, when we returned from the vigil, I had each of the children take two thorns out of our crown of thorns for "not being like those children in the loft with us." Running up and down the stairs, stomping, yelling, banging on everything. We are a church that welcomes children in the services. A certain amount of noise is expected, especially from babies and toddlers. This was far beyond that. This was parentally sanctioned with parents who thought it was "cute." And who sugared up their kids before the fast was broken and before the Eucharist and before the vigil began. Meanwhile, every one of our children was quieter, even Nejat who was having a hard time going to sleep and was too hot upstairs and cried a little. Our children either participated as they could, or used their blankets to rest during the service. I am thankful to God for their good public behavior.

4. Jerome was telling us a story on Fesah' about something that his sisters were doing. He started by saying "Mariam and Jerome were..." Now, his voice is almost identical to Yasmina's, but we didn't think it confused even him.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Yarn Along: Finished for Fesah'

I was this close to finishing Yasmina's shoulder shrug in time for the vigil, but didn't. She will have it for the final day of the Paschal Octave, though. It's hard to see the silver in this picture, but there is silver thread mixed in with the blue on Yasmina's shrug. Amira wore the spencer that a friend made for her, Mariam wore her shrug, and so did Nejat. I'm hoping to have a photo of all of the kids in their Paschal finery after Sunday, and the girls modeling their jackets.

I have more details for Yasmina's, Mariam's, and Nejat's shrugs for those who are interested.

I'm excited because it looks like someone has this yarn and can send it to me, so this should be finished within a few weeks. I've been so close for so long and can't wait for it to be completed.

I've picked up a little light reading this week, but nothing to take note of really.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Menu Plan: Bright Week

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 am also excited because for the first time, I've remembered in time to order our chocolate lambs for our basket. We order them here as we are able to get decent chocolate at a good price and also support monastics. You may remember that we focus on the Lamb, rather than the bunny.

There is no fasting during the eight days of the Paschal Octave, which is both exciting and tough after fasting and abstinence during Lent! Enjoy!

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 on Saturday.

*You might notice that I call Easter Pascha or Fesah'. English and German are the only languages that use a Pagan name for this holiday. It is where much of the syncretism comes. We are not fond of that. Just about every other language in the world uses its word for Passover for this holiday. Pascha is the Greek, Fesah' is Arabic. You see Pascua, there is Pascal, Pasquale, and many other variations on this. Since we focus on the Lamb and not the bunny, since the only eggs we do are blood red from both the Jewish Passover and Christian doctrine and tradition, rather than the pastel "spring" eggs, we would also rather avoid the only linguistic connection to Paganism in our celebration. I'm not sure why, but it seems like the English had more trouble with this than other cultures.

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Friday, April 18, 2014


Today is suspended upon the Tree, He who suspended the land upon waters.
Today is suspended upon the Tree, He who suspended the land upon waters.
Today is suspended upon the Tree, He who suspended the land upon waters.

A crown of thorns crowns Him, who is the King of the angels.
He is wrapped in the purple robe of mockery, who wraps the heavens with clouds.
He receives smitings, who freed Adam in the Jordan.
He is tranfixed with nails, Who is the Son of the Virgin.

We venerate Thy passion, O Christ.
We venerate Thy passion, O Christ.
We venerate Thy passion, O Christ.
Show us also Thy glorious resurrection!

اليوم علق على خشبة الذي علق الأرض على المياه
إكليل من شوك وضع على هامة ملك الملائكة
برفيرا كاذباً تسربل
الذي وشح السماء بالغيوم
قبل لطمة الذي أعتق أدم في الأردن
ختن البيعة سمر بالمسامير
و إبن العذراء طعن بحربة
نسجد لألامك أيها المسيح

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Yarn Along: FO, Almost FO, and One to Make by Saturday

So, I have Nejat's shrug finished, Mariam's almost finished (and I hate this pattern - it is adorable, but it is fraught with errors, has more errata than pattern, and this is for a fairly straight forward, simple pattern - I pity a beginner who tries this). I only have the cuffs and edging to do on it. I haven't started Yasmina's yet. Though, I'm hoping to get to that tonight. And have it finished by Saturday, Friday ideally. Amira's was made in exchange for my making a knit jacket for a friend's son, so two out of four jackets are complete, one is almost complete, and another still needs to be started.

We always take Holy Week and Bright Week off from school, so this week the kids are doing a ton of cleaning. I am doing a ton of organizing, cooking, running of errands, and knitting, plus all the extra church services, and next week will be our real rest.

Still on the look out for more of this yarn which is discontinued. I only need between an eighth and a quarter of a skein to finish my project. If anyone has a skein, even a partial skein, of Classic Elite's Posh in hydrangea, color #93051, any dye lot, please leave a comment or e-mail me, and we can work out a way for me to buy it from you. I only have about one eighth of this project to finish.

There isn't much reading going on right now. I have too much on my plate.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Menu Plan: Holy Week

This banner is something that we made a couple years ago, with our palm fronds from Palm Sunday, to hang from our mantel. I keep meaning to share this picture with you all here. I might even explain how we made it, though it is pretty self-explanatory.

Thank you to all who are praying for me, I'm still hobbling around, but hurting a bit less (unless I put too much pressure on my left foot). If you could hold our family in your prayers, I'd appreciate it. There's nothing catastrophic going on, but we're struggling with some challenges that are leaving us a bit frustrated.

It is Holy Week again. It doesn't feel like a year has gone by, and yet so much has happened in that year. I'll try to write more on that this week. Although this year's Lent has been much less focused and much less chosen by me, God has chosen many of our sacrifices this year, and we have grown. I am finding myself excited by this week's journey. It will be arduous, but it will be good. At the end of it, there is the highest feast, the most glorious celebration of the Christian year. I am always a little amazed at churches who spend one day on the Paschal feast, with little or no spiritual preparation for it, and then declare it finished. Especially when so much focus is given to the birth of our Lord. I am thankful to have the liturgical year with its focus on these events. I'm thankful that Easter isn't one day, but eight, and that the season lasts for 50 days and culminates in Pentecost.

Our meals this week aren't too complicated. This is a full week of preparation for us, so I'm trying to keep it as simple and/or quick as possible. We will be in church four days out of seven this week. After Tuesday, we will be eating nearly vegan, and those who can fast completely on Friday and Saturday will be doing so. This is spiritual boot camp for us, and while it is challenging, especially with young children, it is so good. We learn and grow in our faith and come to the celebration of the resurrection with our hearts and minds prepared to rejoice and receive Him who rescues us.

May God grant you all a blessed and holy journey to the Paschal celebration.
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 recipe round up on Saturday.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Recipes: Red Borschty, Tacos de Papa with Avocado Relish


Red Borschty

I came up with this recipe about 4 O'clock on an August afternoon. We had loads of beets and lots of short ribs, so this seemed like a natural thing to make. Fortunately, that day was something like 95 degrees, so eating a late dinner was a little cooler at our home. Even with the heat, we all enjoyed this meal, eaten with sour cream, horseradish, and marble rye. We have since eaten it with egg noodles as well.

This recipe is so far off from authentic anything, that I don't think I can, in good conscience, call it borscht. So, red borschty it is. In your best Swedish Chef accent. This does take a bit of time to make, but it's time you mostly can be doing something else, like reading a book, working on your knitting, talking to your spouse, watching a fun movie.

1/4 cup olive oil, to cook beef and vegetables
5 pounds beef short ribs, preferably English style
2 pounds shallots or onions, peeled, halved and sliced
2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1 inch pieces
2 pounds beets, peeled and shredded (use a food processor, if you can, to avoid getting your kitchen all red)
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 bunch radishes, halved lengthwise and sliced
4 cups beef stock
2 teaspoons salt + more for meat
1 teaspoon pepper + more for meat
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 4 sprigs of fresh, if you have it)
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh dill sprigs, chopped (I've used about 2 tablespoons dried, in a pinch, added with the other herbs and spices)
Sour cream (optional)
Horseradish (optional)

Heat oil over medium high heat in your largest pot. This makes a lot of stew. Salt and pepper the beef generously, and brown on all sides in the oil. Remove and set aside. I do this in the inverted lid of our big doufeu oven.

Borschty Prep

Reduce heat to medium. Add onions and carrots to the same pot, and cook, stirring, until onions are translucent. Add beets, potatoes, and radishes, and cook a few minutes more. Pour in beef stock, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, thyme, bay leaves, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. Return beef to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover with lid and let simmer for about an hour and a half.

Taste for salt and pepper, and adjust seasonings as necessary. Remove beef from pot and remove meat from bones, return the meat to the pot. Sprinkle with the chopped dill and serve with sour cream, horseradish, rye bread or egg noodles.


Tacos de Papa with Avocado Relish

This is a great vegetarian recipe. It is surprisingly delicious and a great meal for serving others, too. The avocado relish makes it. It must be made with it.

10 medium to large potatoes, peeled and finely diced
1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
3 jalapeños, finely minced (seeded and deveined if you want to reduce the heat)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 pound queso fresco, crumbled
salt and pepper, to taste
about 50 corn tortillas

In a large frying pan, heat a good quantity of oil over medium high heat. Add the potatoes and onions, and cook until the potatoes are just starting to brown and the onions are soft. Add the jalapeños and cumin, and cook a couple minutes longer. Take off heat, and stir in the queso fresco, salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

In another pan, heat more oil over medium high heat.

Steam the tortillas, about 10 at a time, fill with a little of the potato mixture, fold in half and fry in the hot oil, turning once, until both sides are crisp and a little browned. Repeat with all of the tortillas. I keep the finished tacos in the oven on the lowest heat while preparing the rest of them.

Serve with avocado relish.

Avocado Relish

6 medium avocados, diced
1 small onion, or half of a larger one, finely diced
2 jalapeños, finely diced
1 bunch cilantro, stemmed and finely chopped
6 small tomatoes, seeded and diced
juice of 3 limes
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and serve with tacos. Any leftover relish is great with chips or over nachos or added to corn and cooked black beans as a salad.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Randomizer Update

Jerome decided he wanted a new nickname: Bob Urchin Minion. BUM for short. He hasn't yet seen the humor that his siblings have.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Yarn Along: Another Finished Design and Crazed Paschal Knitting

Not only do I have another finished project, but it is another design for submission as well! I have one more I'm working on to submit, and about 23 days to have it in the publisher's hands. Because of this, I've only done another two rows on my ring around the rosey scarf. It is on hold for at least the rest of the month. I hope to have photos of my designs posted soon, when I hear whether or not they have been accepted.

I am in sea of blue knitting right now. In an attempt to coordinate the girls outfits for the Paschal vigil, along with the boys' clothes, I am making three, small shoulder shrugs for our three youngest girls (Amira's was sewn by a friend and is already made). Nejat's is almost finished and I'm trying to decide if I have enough yarn, and time (should I be miscalculating how much blue I have), to edge it in the same color, or if I should edge it in pink (her dress has pink on it, too).

I'm still looking for more of this yarn which is discontinued. I only need between an eighth and a quarter of a skein to finish my project. If anyone has a skein, even a partial skein, of Classic Elite's Posh in hydrangea, color #93051, any dye lot, please leave a comment or e-mail me, and we can work out a way for me to buy it from you. I only have about one eighth of this project to finish.

Just started to skim through The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things, and I am reserving judgment. It has the potential to be wonderful, but also has the potential to allow speculation to form the backbone of the book. It is a story of Jane Austen's life told in several iconic possessions of hers. I'm still reading and loving Christ in His Saints. I won't quote any more at you. This time.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Menu Plan: Fifth Sunday in Lent

The avocado pasta last week was so good! I accidentally burned the walnuts, so I used cashews in their place, and it was excellent. Probably better than the walnuts would have been. I will definitely make this again, with a few changes, but I just can't call it carbonara. It was a creamy avocado and walnut/cashew pasta.

I managed to either bruise extremely or break one of my toes on my left foot, and have it taped to the one next to it. I'm spending as much time as I can off of my feet, and Rich is helping me rest so I can keep it elevated. Our meals this week, therefore, are those which are either quick for me to make, or can be made by others, or with a lot of help from others. Please remember me in your prayers.

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 recipe round up on Saturday.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Yarn Along: Matching Hat, Missing Yarn, and a Project for Me

I have another finished item this week! I made a little coordinating hat to go with my design submission using the lace panel from my design and the same edging for the brim. This is just for Nejat to wear when she is big enough to wear the other garment itself. I've been working on a smaller one that will fit her now, for our windy spring weather. However I have run out of the yarn. And it is discontinued. If anyone has a skein, even a partial skein, of Classic Elite's Posh in hydrangea, color #93051, any dye lot, please leave a comment or e-mail me, and we can work out a way for me to buy it from you. I only have about one eighth of this project to finish.

See how sad it looks, waiting to be finished?

I've also started a fun scarf for myself. I hardly wore scarves until we lived here. Since it gets frigid for about half of the year here, I've taken to wearing them quite a bit. The ruffly yarn is a bit of a challenge for me, but I'm hoping to have this finished in time to wear it at least a couple times this spring, and pull it out again in the fall.

I've made some more progress in Christ in His Saints. Here is some more from it that has given me much to consume and consider.

First, as the initial effect of grace, repentance is not of an order different from holiness. This needs emphatically to be said, because for some few centuries now there has roamed abroad the fallacious theory that God's act by which we are justified remains external to us. This rather recent theory effectively separates repentance from holiness, as though God would declare a man righteous without actually making him righteous, pronounce him to be just without causing him to be a "saint," and convert him but without giving him a new heart. Against this theory, the Bible indicates that the conversion of repentance is not just an act of God; it is also an act of man's free will under the accepted influence of God's grace. Man's heart, his interior, is altered by repentance. . .

Next, judgment was pronounced on the house of each offender in the shape of death (Genesis 3:19; 2 Samuel 12:14). Indeed Adam and David would each be preceded to the grave by a son born of that same woman (Genesis 4:8; 2 Samuel 12:18). That is to say, in both instances sin led immediately to death (cf. Romans 5:12). On the other hand, in each example, a new son was born as a sign of promise and renewed hope (Genesis 4:25; 2 Samuel 12:24). Thus in the circumstances of Adam's and David's sins, we see a narrative sequence of fall, judgment, curse, and mercy. . .

But calling myself "chief of sinners" is not a quantitative statement. It is not a thesis that I prove by demonstrating that I have committed a larger number of sins than other people. To think of myself as the chief of sinners is not an inference based on a comparison of myself with others. Indeed, the notion of "other sinners: here is nearly a metaphor; there are no other sinners right now, at this moment of Holy Communion. Only one sinner, and only one Savior. . .

Convinced that real saints are always in need of real improvement, I suggest the following list of three useful maxims for the life in Christ.

The top of the list should probably read: "I am still a sinner and will be a sinner until the day I die, and the subtler impulses of my heart are quietly conspiring to conceal that truth from my mind." In the life of grace, absolutely nothing is less reliable than my own assessment of my spiritual progress. Indeed, any thought or sentiment suggesting to me that I have made even the slightest spiritual progress should be regarded as a temptation coming straight from the Evil One. I dally with such a thought only at my peril. Temptations to fornication, homicide, and blasphemy are more safely entertained than this one. I should flee such an impulse as I would a fire, giving it not the faintest indulgence.

A second useful maxim of the life of grace may be: "It is in no way required that I feel good about myself." God does not require it; the Bible does not require it, and the entire ascetical tradition of the Church sternly warns against it. Self-approval is expected only within certain very dubious canons of contemporary behavioral sciences. A "positive self-image" is the most overrated of modern commodities and a very bad bargain at any price. Most often, in fact, the price is a concomitant compulsive disposition to pass judgment on other struggling servants of God.

A third useful maxim of the life of grace may be this: "I am just as likely to offend God because of my virtues as I am because of my vices, and if ever I am completely undone, my fall will more probably involve my strengths than my weaknesses. Consequently, in the spiritual life it is highly deceptive and even perilous to 'play to my strengths.'"

I cannot promise to stop quoting this book. It is basically one giant underline and huge set of brackets for me. And I'm only in the second chapter. Please go read it.

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