Announcing the publication of Nikola and the Monk, written by Dessi Jackson and illustrated by my daughter, Lydia Grace!
Nikola and the Monk is Dessi and Lydia's third collaboration. Written in Dessi's familiar old world storytelling voice, this simple tale tells of an old monk who lives alone on a mountain, and what happens when he meets a boy named Nikola. The characters in Nikola and the Monk are Eastern in their spirituality, reflecting the author's rich Byzantine Catholic traditions.
This past week we have been celebrating the Feast of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, patron of children, travelers, sailors, merchants, and the Byzantine Catholic Church. We put out our shoes the night before to find them filled with our usual simple treats of chocolate coins and our first candy canes and clementines of the season. Sometimes extra goodies are secretly tucked into shoes by Christkindls, and the little girls also found a new picture of the good saint to color. Mary Rose kindly shares her St. Nicholas Coloring Page here, with the Bishop pictured in traditional Byzantine style vestments: Download Saint Nicholas by MRK 2016-12-06 (c) ponderedinmyheart
We like a big pot of cocoa for feast day breakfasts, and it went very nicely with these Harvest Pumpkin Scones, studded with as much chrystallized ginger as you can bear to chop up (plus a little more) and the clementines. Janey was overjoyed to get some of these homemade dog biscuits for her treat. (They looked so good folks would be tempted to eat them on fast days if it weren't for the parsley.)
At teatime I read aloud Kersti and St. Nicholas by Hilda van Stockum, a new favorite tradition since we first got the book a few years ago. While the "new edition has been abridged and adapted by the author's family to make it more accessible to young readers of today," we naturally had to obtain a copy of the original hardcover picture book. Though there are indeed some things that would not pass muster by today's PC standards, it is delightful to read the text as it was written by the author. There are more pictures and verses, the ending is slightly different, and Kersti's doll goes by Fat Girlie (imagine!). Anna found a real Dutch doll in her shoe too.
We also made a boatload of these pierniczki, traditional Polish honey spice cakes, to bring and share at the church's festive brunch today in honor of St. Nicholas. We used theJanina's Piernik recipe found here -scroll down the page for the recipe along with a picture of the traditional icing pattern. Josiah made a wonderful St. Nicholas cookie cutter for me and it worked perfectly for the cookies. The kitchen smelled amazing last night as Lydia boiled the honey and spices together, and the resulting fragrant dough was lovely to work with. We used this recipe for the icing - my first time making royal icing! We just bought a carton of pasteurized egg whites for the recipe and it worked beautifully. The cookies turned out delicious and taste very similar to the decorated Hungarian Mézeskalács I remember so well from childhood.
O Saint Nicholas, bountiful Father and special Patron of our Byzantine Catholic Church. You are a shepherd and teacher to all who invoke your protection, and who, by devout prayer, call upon you for aid. Hasten and save the flock of Christ from ravenous wolves; and by your holy prayers protect all Christians and save them from worldly disturbances, earthquakes, attacks from abroad, from internal strife, from famine, flood, fire, sword, and sudden death. As you had mercy on those three men in prison and saved them from the king's wrath, now also have mercy on me who by word, deed, and thought have sunk into the darkness of sin. Save me from the just anger of God, and from eternal punishment. Through your intercession and aid as well as through his own mercy and grace, may Christ our God allow me to lead a tranquil and sinless life, and save me from standing at "his left," but deem me worthy to stand at "his right" with all the saints. Amen.
Outside my window- We are supposed to get our first taste of snow tomorrow!
I'm hearing- Lo, How a Rose Ere Blooming as my singers practice their four-part harmony. They are learning Nativity hymns in English, Slavonic, Polish and maybe German. We don't listen to recorded Christmas music until it's actually Christmas, but as is wont in musicians' homes there do be a good bit of it floating about the house as folks practice with voices and various instruments.
I'm wearing- This is my new favorite skirt, a birthday gift made for my by Anna. The fabric is just beautiful, and she cleverly trimmed the bottom edge with fine gold chain. Very cool. I do save it for Sundays.
Thankful for- the other day this sweet little chickadee came crashing into the window (in spite of the bird tape) with that dreadful sounding thud. I went right out and picked it up but the poor thing was so still, resting unnaturally upside down in my hand with just a couple of toes clinging to my finger. It didn't look good. But after a bit it righted itself, and then wonder of wonders it eventually sat upright in my hand. I held it close to peer at it and keep it warm while it sat so still and blinking. And then all of a sudden without any warning, whoosh! It flew away as fast as could go! Thank you, St. Francis.
Thinking about- October and November seemed to have gone by in a blur. We accompanied my husband on a little short trip to Connecticut and Rhode Island for a conference and to visit family. While away, we got the call that dear friends lost their twenty year old daughter suddenly and unexpectedly. Such raw, piercing grief.
The week after that we attended the funeral of our dearly beloved 104 year old priest. He lived for many years at the church where we used to attend daily Mass. His dedication to the holy priesthood, old-fashioned charm, and genuine love for all people made him a much loved favorite of so many. I will always remember how when I told him about our Eliza, how the baby I was carrying would need open heart surgery soon after birth. We were in the church, and he turned around and looked directly at the Tabernacle and said with great conviction, "You better take care of her." As we said our final farewells at the wake it was a blessing to be able to kiss his holy hands one last time, and I looked up at the Tabernacle and said, "I know You'll take care of him."
Then the week before Thanksgiving one of my cousins lost her husband suddenly and unexpectedly. We traveled back to my hometown once again for the funeral, held in the church where I grew up and was married. Such sad, hard times. But such a blessing to experience the joy of family in the midst of all the grief.
Living the Liturgical Year - So now we are somehow here in the second week of Advent already. We are following our usual traditions for keeping Advent, doing our Jesse Tree readings in the evening as we light the candles of the Advent wreath, followed by singing the seasonal hymns Alma Redemptoris Mater and Creator Alme Siderum. We say our 'Hail and Blesseds,' as we fondly refer to the St. Andrew Novena prayer. We listen to the Benedictine's Advent at Ephesus over and over again. It is a comfort and a blessing to have these traditions in place to follow every year.
Something new this year: Jonathan is recording Lauds from the traditional Divine Office every day and posting it on a new blog, Dominus Regnavit. They are posted ahead of time so you can listen to the day's Lauds first thing in the morning.
We are creating - The girls are making themselves wool cloaks and hoods, under the direction of Josiah, the master cloak maker. They had a sewing day together on Sunday.
We are working on finished! Lydia's next picture book will be released very soon!
Around the house- We have acquired some new instruments recently: a 115 year old mahogany upright piano and a bona fide vintage pump organ! Both were irresistible (free!) finds on craigslist and we are so delighted to have them in our home. The piano is old and stately and beautiful and sits in the middle of the living room, encouraging all to frequently stop and play for a bit (or an hour). When we saw the listing for the pump organ Lydia right away said we should get it so we could be like the dear Moffats, but we still hesitated a bit. Then I saw the Trinity Acres folks got one, and I thought if they can have one why can't we?! (Ah, the happy power of the internet.) Ours is very plain and simple (Julie's looks gorgeous) and needed a fair bit of repair work. It lived in the garage for months in various states of assemblage until it was finally complete enough to bring inside. It is such a fun instrument! Folks stop by the organ all the time to play a bit, and it has such a grand delightful sound. Caroling around the keyboard should be extra fun this year.
People, keep your eyes peeled for free instruments!
I am reading - The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot. Is it possible that I am enjoying it even more than Middlemarch? Or is it just that this is the George Eliot I'm reading at the moment? Hard to say.
From the kitchen- We are all looking forward to the feast day tomorrow!
A few plans for the rest of the week- Come up with a plan for housekeeping, shopping, baking, and all the rest of the preparations for Nativity? Begin to catch up on email? Hopefully celebrate a new book release!
A picture thought- Hope you are all well, dear readers, and enjoying a blessed, peaceful Advent!
Remember, O Christian soul, that thou hast this day, and every day of thy life: God to glorify - Jesus to imitate - The Angels and Saints to invoke - A soul to save - A body to mortify - Sins to expiate - Virtues to acquire - Hell to avoid - Heaven to gain - Eternity to prepare for - Time to profit by - Neighbors to edify - The world to despise - Devils to combat - Passions to subdue - Death perhaps to suffer - Judgment to undergo.
Thanks for stopping by! My name is Kimberlee. I am a Catholic homeschooling mother of seven children ages 10 - adult. This is my place to share all these things I treasure, and ponder in my heart.
Lydia's New Book
Quis Ut Deus Press
Quis Ut Deus Press You can have your books signed by the illustrator when you buy them here!
The Fig and Thimble
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Dominus Regnavit - Listen to recordings of daily Lauds.
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