Saturday, May 31, 2014

Remember these sad rocking chairs?

I was tickled pink to get them, peeling paint and all. They're very solid and comfortable.

But, of course, I knew they needed work. I only put it off for almost two years...

Here they are!

I finished scraping and repainting early this week. I found some material in the attic and already had some plastic sheeting to cover the seats with. I bought some foam seat cushions and some upholstery tacks at the store. Yesterday evening I finished the last one.

They look SO MUCH better.

And, lest you be thinking I'm superwoman or something, let me show you a close up of the edge. Some of this is lack of skill, but these are also the WORST upholstery tacks I have EVER used. At least a 30% failure rate.

In any event, even if the details don't look great, the whole impression is nice and they're very comfortable and pretty now. :)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Kitchen Hack Poppy Seed Roll

This has got to be one of the biggest cheats I've ever pulled in the kitchen. I mean, two ingredients? Less than 5 minutes of prep? Oh yes. My kind of recipe. And it was great.

Kitchen Hack Poppy Seed Roll

  • 1 package puff pastry
  • 2 cans poppy seed filling   (for instance:)

1.  Allow the puff pastry to thaw on the counter. Leave it out when you put away your groceries and remember it several hours later. It will be just right.

2.  Preheat oven to 400 F.

3.  Each box of puff pastry has two sheets. Unfold one and roll it out with a rolling pin so it's a little thinner and larger. You may need to sprinkle a smidgen of flour on the counter first so it doesn't stick.

4.  Spread one can of poppy seed filling over the pastry leaving at least 1/2 inch border all around.

5.  Starting on a long edge, roll up the pastry. Pinch the ends together and pinch the edge of the rolled up pastry to the rest of the roll.

6.  Repeat for the other sheet of puff pastry.

7.  Sparingly spray some oil on a baking sheet. Transfer the rolls to the baking sheet, seam side down. Bake for 25 minutes.

8.  Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014


 I have absolutely nothing to show for this Wednesday's knit-along! I made six white cotton knitted washcloths for Mother's Day (three for my mother, three for my mother-in-law) and wrapped them up with some yummy soap, but I completely forgot to take pictures. Ah well. I remembered as I was walking into the door of the post office to mail them. (Yes, I actually considered going home, opening everything and taking pictures. I didn't.) Suffice it to say, they were ordinary knitted washcloths, three different patterns. But that's not enough for a knit-along.

I haven't been doing much else creatively speaking because I've been working on the house with Father. But I do want to show off this lovely flower I rescued! I was pruning back some bushes a few months ago and noticed it under one. There were just the long, green leaves and I never recalled seeing any blossoms from it. It had obviously been part of a garden in the front of the house and the bushes had grown over it. With no little trouble, I dug up the entire section of ground and transplanted it five feet to the right so that it would get a little sun and have more room. After a few days I noticed the leaves looked a little more "sprightly" and I had hopes that we would find out what it was. A week or so ago I saw some buds and now we have these lovely flowers! I looked it up this morning and found out that this is a St. Joseph's Lily, called that because the blooming tends to coincide with St. Joseph's Day on March 19th (on the Roman Catholic Calendar). We're a little late, but it's been a cool spring and then there's the transplanting to consider.

So, back to the house (but first a slight detour). I got these rocking chairs for my birthday in 2012. I had started working on stripping the paint, but boy! Was it on there good! Several layers and gooped on. 

Just looking at the crazing you'd think that it would just fall off, but no - I've had to put a lot of work into it.

A week or so ago I started scraping. I only had a barbeque scraper, but it was doing pretty well. I followed up with large-grit sandpaper. This is the second rocker that I started working on yesterday.

And this is the first one! I finished scraping and sanding (not that it looked great) and painted it yesterday.When we stripped off the plastic and fabric on the seat, we found that someone had stapled webbing across them. Decided that I'd better leave well enough alone (obviously the seats were sagging when the person did this) I'm planning to recover the seats with foam, fabric and clear plastic. I'm thinking a china blue-and-white patterned material.

So! The house! Father's been working on the white trim and I've been helping in spots. When we got around to the porch we realized that the only way to do it properly was to rip out the screens which would have to be replaced. (The hail we had last year beat them to a pulp.) Once Father ripped out all the screens (Whew! The dirt!!) we took a good look at it and realized that the porch would look so much better without them, and incidentally, without all the additional framing that had been added to hold them in place. Here is a picture of the house (I don't have one of just the porch, that I can find) and you can see the framing and screens in place.

After running it by the parish council on Sunday, we got the go ahead to leave out the screens and tear down the extra framing! How exciting! We've spent since Sunday afternoon taking it all out with a hammer and crowbar. It left some extremely unsightly bits where all the framing had been, but we're scraping off all the glue and caulking and sanding and painting.

Although we're far from done (the white stripe across the top and the eve haven't been scraped or painted yet) you can see how the look of the porch is far more in keeping with the original Craftsman design. When we get the brickwork and the siding painted it won't look like the same house! (You can see one of the columns below has a rotten board - we're going to replace that.)

See Miss Moppet in the middle? That's how I get stuff done on the porch.

See the "haint blue" ceiling? Traditional on southern porches.

So, all in all, very exciting! The children have enjoyed everything being turned upside-down (of course) and we've let them help here and there. I'll post more update pictures when we get farther along. I'm looking forward to the rocking chairs being all ready for the "new" porch. :)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Some Practical Aspects of Receiving Communion

How should we (as adults) prepare to receive Holy Communion?

1. We should actually believe the Orthodox Christian faith. That's why the texts of the Liturgy refer to those receiving Communion as “the faithful,” and that's why we recite the Nicene Creed, a summary of our faith, before receiving. If we don't believe, then we are, in effect, not among the “faithful” but among the catechumens.

2. We should, as far as possible, be at peace with all men. “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled with your brother, and then come and present your offering” (Matthew 5:23-24)

3. We should have been to Confession recently. If we have committed a serious sin, we must come to Confession before we receive Communion again. The Orthodox Church in America suggests that those who wish to receive Communion frequently (for example, every Sunday), should go to Confession at least every four to six weeks. Other Orthodox jurisdictions have other policies. Some are more strict, others less so.

4. We observe a “Eucharistic Fast.” We are to fast from all food and drink from midnight before we receive Communion. If we will be receiving Communion in the evening (such as at a Lenten Presanctified Liturgy), then it is suggested that we fast from lunch onward. (For those who cannot keep this fast for some serious reason, speak to your spiritual father, who may reduce the length of the fast, or give a blessing to receive medication.) Married couples also "fast" from relations at least from the evening before Communion.

5. We should prayerfully read the Prayers of Preparation for Holy Communion, which can be found in any Orthodox prayer book. These prayers beautifully express the spirit in which we should receive Communion. If you aren't sure what to read, ask your priest.

6. We should endeavor to arrive on time. A good rule of thumb: If we do not arrive at least in time to hear the reading of the Gospel, then we should not receive Communion at that Liturgy.

7. When should we not receive? – Under normal circumstances, we do not receive Communion if we are bleeding, vomiting, or feel nauseated.

8. How often should we receive Communion? – Unless spiritual father tells you otherwise, it is good to receive Communion as often as you can.

9. How do we receive? – When it is time for Communion, we approach with our hands folded over the chest, right hand over left. If the priest does not know your name, tell him your name as you come up to the Chalice. After you receive, the server will wipe your lips with the cloth. Keep your hands folded against your chest. Do not make the sign of the Cross; this could tip the Chalice. The priest will hold up the base of the Chalice to your lips; kiss it, then carefully withdraw. At the side table we receive the “zapifka,” blessed bread and wine mixed with hot water, to wash down the precious Body and Blood.
GREEK TRADITION: If receiving Communion at a Greek or Antiochian parish, instead of folding the hands over the chest, you will be expected to hold the communion cloth up to your chin when it is time to receive. State your name clearly to the priest. After receiving, wipe your own lips with the cloth. You do not kiss the chalice.
10. If visiting at a parish where the priest does not know you, do not be surprised if he questions you at the Chalice, to be sure that you are an Orthodox Christian and are prepared to receive Holy Communion. He is not being rude, but doing his job, guarding the sacrament and protecting those who come to receive. 

11. We participate in the Divine Liturgy (and other liturgical services)
- by receiving Holy Communion 
- by attentively listening to what is being read or sung
- by praying (our mental and spiritual participation)
- by singing along with the choir for the parts of the service that we know
- by our physical participation – the sign of the Cross and bowing, prostrations, etc.

We make the sign of the Cross when the Holy Trinity is mentioned. We bow our heads when the priest blesses us with his hand or when we are censed.

Minimally, we should be standing (1) when Christ comes out in the Gospel book at the Small Entrance; (2) when Christ is present in our midst as the Gospel is read; (3) when the bread and wine are solemnly carried to the Holy Table at the Great Entrance; (4) when Christ is present in our midst in His precious Body and Blood, even if we are not receiving Communion; (5) whenever the priest is censing us; (6) whenever the priest blesses us.

12. What to wear to church? Church clothes should be reverent. We are participating in the solemn worship of the Holy Trinity, and our clothing should be appropriate to this. We should not wear gym clothes. In general, avoid wearing clothing that will call attention to yourself, or that will distract others or cause scandal.

(Taken from Father's bulletin this week)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Baby dress from a girl's button-down shirt: part 1

 There was a perfectly good, in lovely condition, button-down shirt of Flopsy's that she was offering for the thrift store bag. I took one look at it and saw a baby dress trying to get out. I'd seen those photos of men's dress shirts turned into baby dresses and figured I could do something with it.

The other day I had a chance to start on it. Here's the original shirt (size 10):

I started by cutting out the rough shape I figured I needed for the body of the dress.

Then I decided that cuffed elbow sleeves would be nice, so I cut off the ends of the sleeves for them.

I started basting with black thread. This is the front of the collar.

There was a tuck in the back and I decided to keep it. I stitched it down so I wouldn't lose it.

I did a little it of sleeve work yesterday during a quiet moment but didn't take pictures. I still hadn't figured out exactly what the end result would look like.

This evening I did some more work on it and here are some pictures of the rough shape of the dress. It's partially basted and mostly pinned together.

The original shirt had tabs inside the sleeves so they could be buttoned up when cuffed. I cut off the tabs and the buttons. This evening I realized I could use them to take up the waist of the dress.

The cuffs are smaller now. I saved the buttons so when I'm done I can sew them all in the right places.

Still a lot of work to do, but it's coming along!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Liturgical Sewing: Shortening an Orarion

Our subdeacon's new orarion was too long and he was in danger of tripping on it. Father brought it home today and I took eight inches off each end (sixteen inches total). This is the same technique I have used for shortening an epitrachelion of Father's. I took photos as I went so I could show you how to do it.

A few points:
  1. If the liturgical item has already been blessed, then everything you take off of it, including snipped threads, is likewise blessed and must be placed in the burn box. If you remove crosses or other ornaments, you can certainly save them for later use, keeping in mind that they are blessed.
  2. Try to preserve the item as much as possible, making as few cuts as necessary and making alterations as invisible as possible.
  3. Take your time.
Here are the two ends of the orarion. 

The first thing I did was remove the cross from one side. 
Do only one side at a time. You'll see why later. 

See those little threads? Burn box.

I cut the orarion just under an inch above the top row of galloon.

Then I cut off seven inches of the remaining end (over the area where the cross had been). The reason I only cut seven inches off is because there will be about an inch overlap. That gives you a total of eight inches of length removed from one end.

Going back to the end with the ornamentation, use your seam ripper to peel back the galloon down to the stitching on the bottom edge of the horizontal piece.

Like so:

Now carefully cut out the strip of brocade above the galloon, leaving the satin backing. This helps alleviate some of the bulk when you overlap the two edges. 

Cut off a small triangle from the portion of the backing that is folded over (on each side).

Now, fold the satin backing forward such that the resulting folded edge is just higher than the edge of the galloon. Pin in place.

This is what it should look like from the back:

Fold back the bits of vertical galloon that extend beyond the top edge of the horizontal galloon. Pin in place.

It should look like this:

Slide the other cut end of the orarion between the satin backing and the galloon like a sandwich. Here's a close-up:

What it looks like from the front:

Pin in place (the red pins, in this case):

The back view:

Put the two ends of the orarion next to each other and line up the galloon. 
Pin the cross in such a way that it matches the one that has not yet been removed.

The back view:

Find some gold thread that matches the galloon. Load this in the top of your sewing machine. Use thread that matches the satin backing in the bobbin (white, in this case).

Sew the sandwich together, trying to follow the original line of stitching on the extreme outer edges of the galloon. 

Sew the cross in place.

Here are the two ends, the altered one on the left, the unaltered on on the right. 

Yes, the one I altered is slightly wonky. Sigh.

The back view:

Repeat the steps on the other side.

Here is the finished article, both sides altered: