Eastertide 2016

The last year or so I’ve been reading a lot on the Liturgical or Sacred Church Year. I am by no means leaning into becoming Catholic or Orthodox, but I have found that incorporating some of the rich aspects of traditional worship into my own observances has been so so beneficial.

An Enriched Lent

We began Lent on Ash Wednesday when I began this study on the the Prodigal Son, with Edie Wadsworth, from lifeingraceblog.com. She’s a Lutheran, and I’ve loved so much of her writing which reflects her deep faith and the highlights the Lutheran leanings toward the need for grace in our daily lives.

CandleI read somewhere about having 6 candles and lighting them all on Ash Wednesday, on each Sunday prior to Easter, eliminate one candle. Then on Good Friday extinguish them all. It’s like the reverse of Advent, to remind us of Christ conquering the darkness in the Resurrection. I don’t force anyone in the family to participate in this, I just take a moment to center my heart and mind on the season, and honestly, the entire process was just so powerful this year. By resurrection Sunday, I was full of this anticipation to celebrate!

A Beautiful Holy Week

Last year, we did a daily study of walking through the last days of Jesus’ life on earth leading up to the cross…and on Holy Saturday we made Resurrection Rolls.

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This year we changed it up according to our schedule. Each night of Holy Week we had our Family Time either after dinner or during Homeschool…

We did our main readings from this book by Vic KParker…It was very thorough (good for younger and older kids) and divided the week up perfectly…love the illustrations too.

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and added Easter Hymns to our binder we use for Morning Time/ Symposium most days…

Symposium Binder easter hymns

On Monday we read about Jesus clearing the Temple, on Tuesday we read about the Last Supper and had a “footwashing” of our own (we washed each others hands) and had communion.

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On Wednesday we read about Jesus’ praying in the the Garden and his betrayal. On Thursday we read about his false trials and the beatings he took for us. On Friday, the crucifixion. Saturday was a day of silent reflection.

And Sunday….we celebrated.

We joined with other saints at a service…which was beautiful. Full of dance, visual art, music, congregational singing and the gospel message…best of all, the expectation reflected on the faces of fellow believers.

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The kids got their baskets AFTER church (there was no way they were eating candy before church!)

groupThen the extended family came over for dinner. We all love to see the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins – but according to my dad…holidays were a must for the family to get together.

Dinner was complete with our singing, conversations, jokes and of course delicious food.

easter program

I try to make our celebrations a bit more meaningful by taking an hour to plan a little “outline” that includes poetry, or scripture reading, some songs/ hymns, games, etc. This is what this year’s looked like…we had a “progressive reading” of the Resurrection Story as napkin rings. I found them here.

 

 I try to set the table the night before. This year I was on a tight budget, so created a centerpiece with silk flowers from storage, my sister ended up giving me some fresh flowers that day, So I incorporated them happily.The rest were decor I already had from years past. Loved stuffing old plastic eggs with the conversation starters, they were like Easter “fortune cookies”.

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DSC_0370 The kids table had an Easter I-SPY Game I found here…

After dinner we headed outdoors for the Egg Hunt…

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DSC_0424And back indoors for dessert!

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Happy Easter – Christos Annestis!!

PS – I was super happy with my easter decor this year. I spent a whopping $3!

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Decorating for Spring and Easter

Here’s a peek of how we changed things up around the house to welcome spring. Come on in~!
February and March 2015 210This is a DIY pussy willow wreath that cost me about $5 to make. It’s a great transition piece between February (post Valentines) to when I add a floral wreath. I could have put one up for easter, but really just loved the simplicity of this one. Instead the Easter wreathes stayed indoors this year. I will be on the lookout for a more “flowery” front door hanging this month though, now that things are definitely greening up.

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In our front foyer I kept it kind of neutral. The burlap bunny garland stayed up from mid march through Easter.. Basically after Easter I remove the bunnies from most decor and add in the other more subtle spring pieces I have. The bird cage, nest and birds came back this year, with the stacking suitcases and I added more pussy willows here to give continuity from the front door. The glass apothecary dishes have white lights in them and are great to light up the evenings in our entry.

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It’s simple, but pretty…and I hope warm and welcoming.

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Moving upstairs, the kitchen had touches through Easter. I used both silk and real lilies in the kitchen and family rooms. The mantel arrangement changed a few times to accommodate various table settings. Now that Easter is passed us – most of the “easter” books have been put away with all but the green moss bunny on the shelf. The Lent Candle stayed out and was used most days, what a great exercise we’ll be sure to repeat. It was also pretty.

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I loved having this crown and purple scarf out, to keep the focus on the king, more than the commercial aspect.

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Touches of colour and expecially green, really helped bring some beauty indoors.

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In the basement, which is where we hosted a few functions, primarily our large celebration dinner, we decorated the fireplace and the table. The mantel, silk flowers, a couple mirrors and old vases. The only new piece was the burlap bunny garland which was a dollar.

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From our Easter breakfast table.

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And from Easter dinner, in case you didn’t see last weeks posts.I’m not sure if I will get around to posting any other changes since winter. I did change out my curtains from red to a transparent turquoise colour in the kitchen, and a couple wall hangings have changed to lighten things up a bit…no pics, but as I’ve posted about before, I believe that when we make small adjustments in our homes, it helps us transition the seasons in our hearts as well… which helps with the harmony of the home.

What changes have you make around your home to welcome the new season?

Celebrating Easter – Christos Anesti!

As promised, here’s the follow up to yesterday’s post. This is how we finished out the Holy Week on Resurrection Sunday!

Christos Anesti! Χριστός ἀνέστη! – “Christ is Risen!”

Alithos Anesti!   Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη! – “Truly He is Risen!” or “He Has Risen Indeed!”

Early Sunday morning we woke up to a nice spread of easy foods to eat on the go, we knew it would need to be a fast morning because we had to leave for the church service by 9 am. Elaina followed the bunny footprints from her room to her basket in the kitchen. The boys had a hunt complete with clues that led them all over the house. You can see it here. The baskets were 75 percent non-candy items like pencils, small toys, etc. and then a few treats including a small chocolate bunny. Isabelle’s basket had some teenager friendly treats too. Seeing it was her first North American Easter Celebration, we didn’t want her to miss out on the fun.

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Breakfast table…pretty tablecloth, white plates and tea set, our coloured eggs and a bunny, muffins and hot cross buns under the dome and a fresh fruit tray. The tulips were borrowed from the dinner table.

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The church was packed, the choir was huge, the songs were spectacular and filled my heart with joy. The message gave me much to meditate on and on our way out the door…. SNOW?! What! At least it was pretty and didn’t last.

After church we hurried home to finish setting the table before the rest of the family joined us for a Roast Ham Lunch. It was potluck style. Here’s what I did with the table…keeping it pretty simple, not spending any money except on the tulips.

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I laid an old egg wreath on the table and set in a candle holder to set the pitcher of tulips on. I bought the tulips closed the day before and kept them wrapped so they wouldn’t open or flop over too soon.

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Instead of favours or place cards, we kept it simple with grownups on the corners, I glued a simple paper flower onto the napkins.  Yes we used plastic plates and cutlery. Next year, I will not cheap out on the cutlery, they kept breaking, which was funny, but not to be repeated. I put chocolates in these cute metal baskets on each corner instead of favours at each place.

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COUSINS!

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My family makes everything fun. My sisters (as long as they have music) are clowns in the kitchen – and they get the dishes done!

Egg Hunt!

After dinner, after all the visiting and just when the kids are the most ansty, we head outside for the annual egg hunt. This year some of the eggs had chocolates, and some had money.

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Each kid had their own colour of egg to keep it simple.

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It was so much fun watching the 2 year olds get the idea of collecting eggs. These 2 had it made, no particular colour, so the big kids had to move fast!

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It was difficult getting Isabelle to put the baby down long enough to collect eggs. Since she’d never done this before, I made sure she had some eggs too.

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Happy Easter Everyone!!!

The Mantle – Then and Now….and In Between

I thought I’d do a fun little piece on the kitchen mantle since that area is about to undergo a change of sorts…

I wanted an area that I could change up seasonally just for fun, and to remind me to enjoy life, the changing seasons, etc. So I found this shelf at Goodwill a couple years ago and blogged about it here. Since then it’s undergone the seasonal shift, here’s a few samples…

FIRST MANTEL FALL 2011

 FALL 2012

 FIRST CHRISTMAS 2011

CHRISTMAS 2012

WINTER 2013

 
WINTER/ VALENTINES 2013

 WINTER/ VALENTINES 2012

SPRING/ EASTER 2013

 SPRING 2013 – removed the bunnies, etc.

 SPRING/EASTER 2012

RIGHT NOW – SUMMER 2013

As you can see, it constantly gets “tweeked” – sometimes a lot, sometimes just a little. Some seasons, I just change out a few things, like this year, since Easter was way back in March, I switched the bunnies for garden stuff, then into summer I switched in my chicken, washboard, etc… I love having this little area to express myself artistically. Since it’s in my kitchen, I get to enjoy it ALOT.

LOOKING AHEAD… just for a hint, the space needs to be a been more functional for our school days, and I’d like my “mom central area” aka desk, etc to be more cohesive in the space, I got the idea of a chalkboard wall, first from Moni and then from Shannon

I think I’d like it to look a little like this…

 or this…

 or this…

I guess you’ll have to wait and see 🙂

My Garden in May 2013

Garden in May 2013 – Part 1 – Veggie Garden
It’s that time of year again. After about a month of working in the yards we see the end in sight. We still need to plant some shrubs and finish a few areas here and there, but overall, we’re happy with the progress this year. The veggies seem to be starting out well, but we’ll see how potatoes grow ( our first try) and the pumpkins (we’ve tried 5 years now and only suceeded 2 times to harvest a pumpkin). We still have seedling that need to eventually find a growing home, 
but I’m not worried – everything always works out.
First we got 3 yards of triple mix to work into the beds that had been weeded.
The quince Tree in Bloom
Rhubarb Patch got thinned and the darned horseradish grew back!
It’s basically all planted, just waiting for the sprouts so we can set up the stakes, etc.

Good old Herb’s patch is abounding… Greek Oregano, Italian Oregano, Thyme, Lemon Thyme, Mint, Peppermint, Sage, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Sorrel and tonnes of chives…and creeping rosemary.

New Potatoes, Zucchini and Beans (raspberries and strawberries in background)
I plan on having the beans and zucchini grow “up” – it worked wonderfully well last year. Next year I think we need to rethink our strawberry patch location.

Cucumbers, Ground Cherries, Kale, Swiss Chard, Cabbage, Beets, Romaine & Spinach

Multiplier Onions and Spanish Onions (corn in back ground)

Pumpkins
Garden in May 2013 – Part 2 – Flower Gardens
This year we changed our multch colour to black and LOVE it.
Rose & Perennial Gardens Before the Multch 
After – so nice and tidy now
we plan on adding a few shrubs in here and replacing one of the rose bushes that died with a yellow knockout rose. Also the ninebark from last year will be replaced.

Before – the flowering crabapple standard – perfection. 
Poppies, Heuchera and Memorial Day Roses look kind of sad on the multch free beds.
The Peonies in this bed may need to be relocated, they are hidden by the giant rose bush…
After – everything pops.

Before – the Lavender Twist looked amazing! Also, a burning bush, phlox, daylilies, forget-me-nots, primrose, sweet william and a few i can’t remember in front of the jap maple and daisies.
After 
Before – that little shot of yellow is a climbing impatient(?) 
After
After – lots of hostsas, yarrow, poppies, grasses, ground covers around our anniversary bench and rhododendron under the mulberry tree.
The Sunroom Cleaned Up – we “forgot” to trim up the hydrangea’s last fall and they are now GIGANTIC – woopsie!
Back of House Before
Jap Maple, Holly (we’ll move these in the fall); Dogwood, Sedum…
After – we’re replacing this overgrown Daphne, you can glimpse the azalea (red) here too.

Side Yard – burning bush standard, climbing boxwood, a rose bush that’s coming out (never ever flowers); peonies, lilac, snowball hydrangea, iris (purple, yellow and dwarf blues) also a few lilies, Another rose, a rose of sharon, more peonies and a wisteria that also won’t die. I think we may have lost our hollyhocks too. 
Back After Ariel View
Front Yard & Step – Before
We still have a lot of work up here. We removed the sumac (it was too fast a grower) and so the yarrow got huge. I planted some Canalilies here too – we may move the hollys here in the fall. Mums will fill in here too and a couple sedums and the knockout rose. In the distance is our weeping lilac standard.

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After – moved some more indoor plants out and added another geranium. This will get more tweeking throughout the summer.
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Balcony – I moved the sitting area furniture up here, and planted our heirloom tomatoes, 3 kinds of peppers and tender herbs (rosemary, parsley, dill and basil) and flowers (geraniums, gerberas and annuals). We also have the seedlings for cauliflower, broccoli, boston lettuce and leeks up here.
Found these 2 metal shelves at a garage sale. Looks nice up here I think.

That’s it folks. Loving my gardens – still have lots of planting to do (mostly replacing trees and shrubs though – update to follow) and then it’s just ENJOY, ENJOY, ENJOY 🙂 How is your garden growing?

Signs of Spring

This unseasonably beautiful weather we’ve been enjoying in Niagara is bringing spring on with force. The sunshine and warm temperatures are driving people outdoors and the flowers up out of the ground. I’ve been wearing sandals for three days and tank tops, we’ve cranked open the BBQ.

I did do a bit of spring cleaning indoors, and did up a spring mantle, but I haven’t let myself get too carried away with cleaning up all the mess of winter, because, well, it is Niagara, and we could still get one of the crazy winter-spring storms…so, for now, just minor tidying and planning, planning, planning.

Here are our Signs of Spring:

My spring mantle (kitchen).

The three bowls are from Great Aunt Fern, they are the only thing I pulled out of the boxes of her things so far. I plan on sorting through those boxes in the weeks to come. I feel a big garage sale coming on in May. I just happened to have matching butterflies in purple, green and blue in my Spring-Easter decor bin as well as the eggs. The moss bunny was in the bin too, originally from Winners.

I found the bunny/flowered pitcher as well as
the glass pedestals at goodwill for a couple bucks.


My “Spring Vignette” in the entryway.
The egg wreath was clearance last year, loved the pale neutral tones.
I used an old cream coloured blanket,

Then I gathered a few items like the nest and bird cage
from the Spring-Easter bin.

The branches and birds were already there from the winter vignette,
I liked them enough to keep another season.

and I found the brown bunnies at Goodwill too.


This is hanging on our front door…so festive.


and I’m still deciding on the best place to hang this one – indoors or out?


Everywhere I look in our garden I see signs of new life appearing. Buds on the lilac trees and of course…


My crocuses are out in full glory.
The tulips, hyacinths and daffodils are getting ready too.
This week we had spring break, no home schooling and we’ve enjoyed the sunshine an extra bit every day.


The boys and I made our annual trek to the Sugar Bush. Pancakes for lunch, yummy. Followed by a fun hayride and tour.
The boys spent a day making “mud pies“, literally hours.

They also decided to anoint my van with spring “mud prints“. sigh.
We also went for a family BBQ at my sisters place. The boys LOVED running around the farmhouse and barn with their cousins (and so did the dog).
Blowing bubbles with the cousins.
Unfortunately we were too hungry to take pics of the amazing summer salads and Stephy’s incredible shishkebobs. There is something about eating outside in the sunshine.
Beautiful sunset…

Afterwards, we had our first bonfire and sat around eating brownies and coffee, singing campfire songs and telling run-on stories!
We then had a lazy weekend to follow the lazy week. Visits with good friends, church and washing the cars – family, friends, good food and relaxing fun….

The perfect way to welcome SPRING!!!

Welcome!!!



I opened my eyes, crawled out of bed to….sunshine! Yes, another sunny morning, so I then ran to my garden in search of…YES! there they were, perfect little buds popping out through the melting snow, dirt and gravel. The pure, simple bliss of seeing the beginning of the flowers that will spring from the bulbs I planted last fall. It’s quite amazing how it just made the rest of my day so…. lovely. Yes, that’s the word for it. Lovely. And honestly, now I can begin to plan my veggie and cutting gardens… because to do it earlier than now, makes me impatient, but NOW, well now there is real promise of the spring to come.

I’m looking forward to my garden this year, having learned so much last summer and fall. Like the fact that rabbits love broccoli and cauliflower, and that we have alot of rabbits back there. And that no matter what, I have no luck with carrots (we’ll save those for purchasing at the farmers market). But I do very well with zucchini, squash, gourds, lettuce, peas and tomatoes. I will save the majority of the herbs for the deck pots, and though pumpkins are fun, they take ALOT of room. And though I probably won’t eat what I grow, i will still grow corn because I like the sound of the wind in it. Reminds me of home – Chatham had a lot of corn.
I also will probably chop off all the quince in the tree before the fall because I don’t know what to do with them and they are heavy and ruin the stuff growing under them. I’m also thinking about replacing the peach trees we chopped down 2 years ago, and having also lost our apple orchard to the fence, maybe one of those in place of the plethora of plum trees we have (esp. since we don’t really like plums). I also loved my tiny cutting garden at the end of the plot (this is just rows of flowers that you grow with the intention of cutting for bouquets) – mostly because I don’t like cutting the ones in my front gardens for this as they look too thin otherwise.
As mentioned, the hydro company has put a fence in back there, (though we are not happy to lose the extra running space) – now it will be that much easier to keep track of the boys when I’m out there. We also lost our neighbours giant raspberry patch to the fence which saddens me because we picked bags and bags worth of them and froze them, and i will miss that. However, now I can focus the time spent there onto tending my own patch.
I’m quite ready for spring and summer and all the surprises and growth that these seasons hold for me and my little family…I love cozy falls and winters – they really are my fav, but this year, this year I’m welcoming spring with all my heart.