Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I am a big fan of play silks, large squares of silk that children can use as capes, costumes, or drapes for play houses. These silks retail for about $10 each, but a few years ago I discovered that Dharma Trading sells plain white hemmed Habatoi silk scarves for as low as $3.50 each. I made a small investment in getting Procion dyes and the necessary chemicals (Turquoise, Fuchsia Red, and Lemon Yellow will give you all the colors of the rainbow if you mix them) and started vat dyeing my own scarves years ago. Then a friend told me about microwave dyeing, and the idea of having a scarf-dyeing Christmas party was conceived. (Check my blog here for instructions on how to dye in a microwave.)
So last year we held the party, and it was a fun evening that yielded many lovely scarves, including a Great Silk Rainbow made from nine yards of Dharma's 8 mm silk. And I couldn't resist photographing the scarves drying in the dishdrain. After being laundred, the colors were more delicate but still true.
We're holding our second annual party this year, and I'm looking forward to it. For a cost-effective stocking-stuffer that will enhance your young child's imagination, consider dyeing your own silks!
Monday, December 08, 2008
So today we sing with the medievals, "Ave has come out of Eva!" Ave Fit Ex Eva!
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
If you'd like to contribute, please mail medium or smaller-size brown or beige teddy bears (please no white or pastel or colored! These are "boy" bears :) ), either new or good-as-new (they can definitely be "played with" and "handled" but they probably shouldn't be in such bad condition that a thrift store would refuse to sell them), that we can use to decorate our tree and then pass on to a good cause after the holiday season.
If you have any bears you'd like to pass on to me, you can mail them to me at:
Regina Doman - Bears for Joshua
P. O. Box 949
Front Royal, VA 22630
If you need a street address for UPS, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you one.
So if you come across any extra teddies in your housecleaning, toy downsizing, or Christmas sales, feel free to pass them on to me! Thank you!
Monday, December 01, 2008
On the one hand, we dread being awash in piles of useless clutter that clogs the rhythmn of our lives and gluts our senses. On the other hand, we both need and desire various material goods, goods which bring a pleasure of their own and which have either a usefulness or a beauty that delights us. Navigating the pulls of both poles is the feat we attempt each holiday season.
How to celebrate poverty with abundance, simplicity with festivity -- that is the paradox of preparation for Christmas.
One time-tested strategy we've adopted is the Rule of Three Gifts: our little Lord Jesus only received three gifts Himself: gold, frankincense, and myrrh, so our children receive the same (plus a stocking). And we warn them to only set their heart on one gift, and be open to what else they might recieve. Thus, they only ask for one, knowing they will only get three.
Last year I wrapped each of the three gifts in a different color paper, stacked them into a pyramid, and tied the stack with thin red ribbon. To create abundance with three gifts, I try to make each a different sort of gift that can be used in a different way: for instance, a fun book, a toy, and a pretty piece of clothing.
This past year our three girls received decorative clog boots from Hanna Andersson that I had miraculously caught on clearance. I packed colored felt, wool, and pipe cleaners into tin boxes for the older girls along with small craft books. My younger daughter was delighted by a Kusi doll from Nova Natural. And is traditional, they each received a fairy tale book from their father and I. Small dolls, accessories, and candy crept their way into the stockings.
My older son received a longer book, computer equipment, and the remote control toy he had his eye on. His younger brother received wooden horses for his knights, a book and CD on knights, and was surprised by a racetrack set from his godfather. (The latter gift did not survive Christmas week, but provided hours of family entertainment while it lasted.)
Gifts beyond three are given to the family at large, or saved for Epiphany. Typically any gift that arrives via mail or visit during the Twelve Days of Christmas is stockpiled for Epiphany. These gifts are the "surplus" that come out of God's blessings, and yes, sometimes there are more gifts on Epiphany than on Christmas! God has His own way of creating abundance.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
But I have to say one of my favorite parts of hosting a party is the morning after, when we group the remnants of the food into breakfast and snacks for the lazy-day-afterwards. I stumbled upon a new way to create a buffet display during this party: I stacked our two benches atop one another and covered them with a fall-colored tablecloth. Leftover wine and hard cider glows on the top level, and the pumpkins and fall flowers still look fresh. And thanks to some thoughtful guests, the floor and room are actually clean! Once again we were thankful to all the friends who helped make our party a success: we look forward to seeing you all again!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008
When it came time to organize that catchall-of-catchalls, the top bureau drawer of my dresser, I longed to have money to buy sleek wire organizers. But being short of cash as usual, I started using old trays and candy boxes, and lo and behold, I liked the result so much better. I just started with a stack of shallow wooden and cardboard boxes and trays. I divided the things that "live" in my top drawer into different piles, then put each pile into a box or box lid corresponding to the proper size. Then I just arranged the boxes and lids in the drawer, adding smaller boxes and trays and favorite things to fill out the space and keep things from sliding around.
So the contents are (from left to right) my fall scarves, my spare eyeglass case, a hand mirror, and a wood cigar box with snack baggies of jewelry (divided up according to style and color: I am becoming my mother!). Polly's baby socks and shoes dwell in a basket and box in the middle of the drawer: below them are special pieces of jewelry in cases and some Catholic keepsakes. Even my inhaler has a home beneath my miniature journals, and all my hair necessities are on a bright red tray at the bottom so I can grab them without fully opening the drawer.
So far the items in the drawer have been fairly-well-behaved even after several months: though the scarves and socks get messy, it's never been easier to find my jewelry!
Monday, October 13, 2008
Thursday, October 09, 2008
I have to say my son fell instantly in love with their Saint George costume. It was quite comprehensive: black pants, silver "chain mail" shirt and hood, and plastic "dragon armor" breastplate and helmet to be worn on top. Not to mention the shield and cool silver sword. So if you're on the lookout for a quality costume for All Hallows or a Christmas surprise, please check out the website: they have an amazingly large selection, and they take orders as well!
Monday, October 06, 2008
The salvaged bookshelf features different colored shelves and a wallpaper background to provide a happy home for fairytale-themed books and toys, and someday it might grow into a dollhouse apartment building? There's room for expansion indeed in this little girls' room.
Friday, October 03, 2008
Clare and Nick were enchanted by the cottage's numerous homey details, such as the shelves over each kitchen window for storing baking good and Nick's teapot collection, which sweetened the realization of how much extensive work the cottage required. One project should come to fruition soon: installing a real woodburning stove in the kitchen chimney.
Though the kitchen cabinets already in the cottage are small, and a little worse for wear, Clare is inclined to keep them simply because of their time-worn charm. Somehow new cabinets off-the-rack from Lowes would not seem as comfortable as these unique handmade ones.
Even I, the perennial plastic-hater, was charmed by these vintage red Tupperware dry goods pins and quirky egg accessories Clare has poised on a window shelf.
PS: If you'd like to visit a little longer at Sylan Cottage and see some adorable handmade toys, be sure to check out Clare's blog.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
It's deceptively simple: eight satin-brocade covered rectangular and square cardboard boxes backed into a square tin: small, light, noiseless, and unbreakable, if not indestructible. (The boxes were sold as a set on Montessori Services. I found the tin on my own.) But for whatever reason, toddlers find them fascinating.
The Montessori exercise, which my two-year-old is performing here, is to take the lids off the boxes, and then try to put the correct lids on each box, matching both the shape and the color of the box. She then puts them back in the box, which is a little tricky as you have to line up the squares and rectangles to get them to fit.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
I moved a few favorite pieces to the area: my husband's wrought-iron lantern I bought him as a gift, a set of nesting flower bowls, an original scratchboard illuminated poem by Canadian artist Sarah Hockin, pottery glasses from our wedding, a silver tray, and my prize "real china teaset with pictures all in blue" that my children and I bought at Christmastime years ago. I spray-painted black the picture frame of an illuminated George Herbert poem by Canadian artist Sarah Hockin, and it fit perfectly. My husband was so charmed by the arrangement he made a special request that I blog it for him. Right now the scheme is green-and-blue (we are still in summer). I expect I'll change some of the pieces as the weather chills and I bring out my reds-and-greens for Christmas. But enjoy!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Now that we have a playroom, I'm hoping to have a set of playstands made for our family for Christmas. My brother-in-law Mike Schmiedicke (his little on-the-side company is Strong Oaks Company) makes them out of antique southern yellow pine reclaimed from an 1800's carriage house/horse barn. I think they're so much more interesting than the pale birch ones you usually find for sale. He made a deal with me: if I can help him sell five playstand sets this Christmas, he'll make me one for free.
Magic Cabin sells their playstand set for $279 + 29.99 shipping. and Nova Natural sells a pair of theirs for $318, plus oversize shipping. Mike will make a set of playstands for just $250 plus shipping (and if you live local to us, you can pick up and save yourself shipping!).
UPDATE: Mike has a store at Etsy where you can see and order the playstands! Also the approximate dimensions of the playstands are: 42"Wx40"Hx11"D.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Silver platters and linen napkins for the food packed just as nicely as paper plates and plastic. And romance was found in a half-dozen red roses and a selection of Trader Joe's gourmet chocolates.
We picnicked at a local winery after hours, toasted one another under the shadow of a mountain peak and a rising moon, and brought home these leftovers and sweet memories.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
(She chose a summer's day)
And hung it in a grassy place
To whiten, if it may.
Queen Anne, Queen Anne has left it there,
And slept the dewy night;
Then waked, to find the sunshine fair,
And all the meadows white.
Queen Anne, Queen Anne is dead and gone
(She died a summer's day)
But left her lace to whiten in
Each weed-entangled way!
by Mary Leslie Newton
For more interesting facts about this lovely flower, click here.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.
-- Seamus Heaney
Monday, August 25, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Friday, August 01, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Marc Girard, 18, looked like your ordinary Catholic teenager. But he was not.
He had a Facebook page. He was a part of the Fairy Tale Novel Forum (even though, like most guys, he hadn't read the books :) ). He was careless about spelling. He hated having his picture taken. His avatar was a man making funny faces. To his four younger siblings and to most of his friends, I am sure he sometimes seemed very ordinary. Even though he took his Catholic faith seriously, and sometimes challenged his high school friends on different issues.
His friend Paul Ethier was surprised when Marc told him that he was planning to join the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, who had a friary near the Girard home in Griswold, CT. Marc was accepted as a postulant, and was going to join the Maine, NY friary in August.
The Girard family had been through a lot. Last year they suffered two hardships in a row: first, their home burned down. The only thing in Marc's room that survived the fire was his picture of Padre Pio.
The family lived on a trailer through the winter, but then this spring, the property was foreclosed.
Marc's father Thomas was working hard to keep the family together. In his free time he helped the Friars of the Immaculate on their outreachs: this past spring he was "Grand Master" knight for their group, The Knights of Lepanto, as Catholic fathers and the friars "initiated" their sons into Catholic knighthood. The photo at the top shows Marc carrying a "penance pack" of 15 pounds of rocks during the "intiation."
Thomas found a new house for the family, and they were going to move on the first day of July, yesterday, in fact.
The day before the big move, Thomas took his two sons, Marc and Lucas and daughter Hannah swimming at a pond down the street from their old house. There was an island a short distance from the shore, and they decided to swim out to the island.
Marc took his younger brother Lucas, 11, along and they swam safely to the island. Mr. Girard took their daughter Hannah, age 7, in his arms and came along behind them.
Hearing his sister Hannah screaming, Marc turned back and the boys saw her bobbing in the water. Their father was gone. Marc stopped several feet before reaching the island. He sent Lucas ahead and went back for his father and Hannah.
Marc swam out to Hannah. He pushed her towards shore until she was safe, told her to pray, and then dove back in to find their father.
He died trying to save him.
Rescue personnel speculate that Mr. Girard died of a heart attack suffered while swimming. Marc was brought to the hospital, barely alive. His mother Carol, some of his friends, and the Friars of the Immaculata prayed with him. He received the Annointing of the Sick and was blessed with a relic of St. Padre Pio. Then at 1:50 AM, on the Feast of the Precious Blood, he died.
It is terrifying how fast death can come. Earlier this past month, Marc was on the forum (screen name: The Illustrious Marceg) and on his blog, joking and laughing with his friends, running for "President" on the forum against Barak Obama and Mr. Darcy, and offering "words of wisdom" about following one's vocation:
Topic: Lord, what are You calling me to do? (Read 460 times) Illustrious Marceg
member is offline Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 30 Re: Lord, what are You calling me to do?
Jun 19, 2008, 10:35am I was so happy to find a thred wich focased on vocations. Just some words of wisdom, First, you are so right when you say long and short term vocation. Like being a good student was mine and being a good son, but now that I'm done with school. It's now to be a good son as well as a good friend. In August I will be leaving to enter the FI (Fransican Friars of the Immaculate) and am very excited about doing so. The thing is though, in my case, I'm almost poitive that this is Our Lords will for me, but as I grow closer and closer to the day i leave, I get spiritually attacked more and more (with emotions and worries such... I'm not talking about Emily Rose stuff ). I was warned by two very holy Friars about temptation and think it would be very helpful to everyone on this fourm especally for those who are looking into religious life. And that is that you will be tempted in ways you didn't think were possible, and if you do end up entering religious life it's still pretty hard. Its the transistion of being more contempt and 'unplugging' your self from the world. Many of the Saints went trough temptation and trial so just be prepaired and persivere. This also goes for those who are asking the question "what do you want from me". Satan will try to lead you against your vocation, just pray, hope, and don't worry and you'll end up doing His will.
Marc was ready to follow his call from God. But this week, he was called to be a hero. And he answered, without hesitation.
I am so sorry that Marc couldn't save his father, and that he couldn't save himself. But I am struck by his courage, and I will always remember him. Marc's friends were unanimous in calling him, immediately and from the start, a true knight.
I'm a novelist: I write modern adventures in which young adults carelessly tagged as "knights" and "ladies" battle modern demons and dragons. My friends and I play games and hold ceremonies similar to that of the Knights of the Lepanto: serious but always a bit tongue in cheek. We have to ask ourselves at some point: is any of it real? Are we really knights and ladies, or are we just moderns playing an odd game?
And then life overtakes us, and for a moment I recognize that for some of us at least, it is real. For Marc, it was real. He truly attained knighthood.
Just now I went on the Fairy Tale Forum and voted that Marc be elected president-forever of the Forum. Post mortem yes, but I think his qualifications are out of this world.
I love to write about young men who are heroes: it's one reason why I retell fairy tales. Marc Girard is a hero to me, a real knight of Our Lady and the Sacred Heart. I am so honored that he was part of our little online group and that our paths intersected for a short time.
Please pray for Carol Girard, and for the remaining children, Adam,17, Jaqueline, 15, Lucas, 11, and Hannah, 7. Pray especially for Lucas, who witnessed the entire tragedy.
As the Girard family has been under such financial stress, I can only imagine that this tragedy has left them even more at risk. I would like to ask the Christian community to consider helping them during this hard time. I know how much it helped our family when we suffered the loss of our son Joshua: please let this family know that they are not suffering alone.
Condolescences and donations can be sent to:
Carol Girard c/o the Ethier Family
133 Lake Shore Drive
Pascoag, Rhode Island
UPDATE: a fund has been set up for the Girards at the local Bank of America.
Bank of America
590 West Main St (Rt 82)
Norwich, CT 06360
Until I find out if they have a way to make donations online, I will continue to collect donations
through my PayPal account and send them to the Bank of America fund.
If you would like to make a donation through Paypal, you can send a donation to me at email@example.com or use the button below. Attach a note or send an email to me saying that your donation is for the Girard family and specify the amount in your email. I will make sure it gets to them.
My husband and I attended the funeral at St. Mary's Church in Connecticut. It was beautiful. I hope to post more about it later.
For more about the Girard family, see this link from the Friars of the Immaculate.
UPDATE: Since some of you have asked, by all means feel free to copy or excerpt this post for your own blog or email.
St. Padre Pio, pray for us. The first martyrs of Rome, pray for us.
To donate to the Girard family via my paypal account, click below.