Monday, December 31, 2007

On the Incarnation

At Christmas, God became incarnate, taking on human flesh. At each of the major feasts of the Church (Easter, Christmas, and others..), I realize how little I really understand about what God has done. Here is an interesting lecture that I recently listened to from Ancient Faith Radio about the incarnation.

To Listen, go here, and listen to the podcast entitled "The Skinny."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Pictues and Update soon to come

I will be posting pictures from our home Christmas decorations and the KPMG Christmas party which was last night. We have been very busy with little time to post. Only 4 days until vacations though!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

More Christmas Thoughts

Shopping: This should be done on the internet.
1. Stores are very crowded
2. Malls are full of many other temptations (Mrs. Fields, Cinnabon) which may smell yummy, but are bad for you
3. Parking?
4. Amazon has free shipping and an outlet to get bargains. Also, it is much easier to find what you are looking for- just type it in.

I have been busy with Christmas preparations this week. A little bit of shopping (see reflections above after being at the mall twice) We now have a sweet little ceramic tree up and a bunch of presents wrapped. The tree is actually from my great-grandparents. I used to put it together with my Nana when I was a little kid. It is white and has a light bulb inside. There are little holes to put colored lights in which glow when you turn it on. I will try to get a picture of it soon.

Also, Nathan and I are both preparing for our Christmas Eve service where we will sing selections from the Nine Lessons and Carols service, and a latin piece called O Magnum Mysterium. The Carols service will be new for us this year and it should be quite beautiful.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

For the Beautiful Bride to Be

Congratulations to Beth and Yannis on their upcoming nuptials!
Yesterday I had the priviledge of helping throw a bridal shower for Elisabeth Hupp. For those of you who were there, you may remember that she was the maid of honor in ny Wedding two-and-a-half years ago (wow, it has been a while! :) ). We had a lovely afternon complete with high tea, lots of family and friends, and lots of presents! You can see a picture of some of the (mostly) homemade goodies above.
It is such a beautiful thing to see such a loving and good relationship, like the one that Beth and Yannis have. It is encouraging for those already married, and brings hope to those who have not yet come to that point in life. In honor of Beth and Yannis, I will post the Orthodox prayer for married couples:
"O merciful God, we beseech thee ever to remind us that the married state is holy, and that we must keep it so; grant us thy grace, that we may continue in faithfulness and love; increase in us the spirit of mutual understanding and trust, that no quarrel or strife may come between us; grant us thy blessings, that we may ever stand before our fellows and in thy sight as an ideal family; and finally, by thy mercy, accout us worthy of everlasting life: for thou art our sanctification, and to thee we ascribe glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen."

May God gant you many years!

At long last...

A GOOD night's sleep!

On Friday, we got our mattress topper in the mail. Nathan opened the package and was a bit skeptical at first. The memory foam looked like it had remembered that it was had been packaged in a tight little box for some time and it took awhile for it to regain its proper shape.

Anyways, we have had it for two nights now, and each night has been very restful (I had previously been waking up 3-4 times a night to shift position or some other reason). So it is a recommendation for anyone who wants to save a worn out old mattress.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas Considerations

I love giving gifts for Christmas. To my family and friends, to Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army, people at work, etc... Sometimes, I can spend a lot of money doing this, so it is important to keep in mind that Christmas is not all about the gifts. It is partly about gifts. First, Jesus became incarnate, which was the greatest gift. Secondly, we are called to give to others, especially those less fortunate. (in the Orthodox Church, almsgiving is a large part of our observance of Advent). That being said, it is important to think about the gifts that we give.

With Nathan's family, we have decided to try and spend no more than $20 a person on our gifts. Often, this has made us either find deals or make homemade gifts. We have to tell the story of how we got our gift too, when the gift is opened. This should be a lot of fun!

Here is a great article by Frederica Matthewes-Green, where she reviews a documentary on one man's crusade to stop all of the consumerism in Christmas. (But not to stop giving alogether). His group is called the "Stop Shoppers."

Here are some excerpts if you do not want to read everything:

"The Stop Shoppers readily admit that changing our lives is complicated, and when asked to suggest alternatives the tough “political” stance (blessedly) vanishes. They agree that it’s not feasible to literally “stop shopping.” They say they’re asking people to think about their shopping habits and make some different choices: a choir member says, “Explore the options, that’s all we ask.” Rev. Billy admits, “We’re trying to slow down our own shopping,” and there’s a funny scene where choir members, browsing in a truck stop while the buses refuel, are tempted to buy cheap souvenirs of the trip. "

"Rev. Billy does have some concrete suggestions: he recommends that at Christmas we “Spend half as much, give twice as much” by making gifts of time and attention, or of something homemade. “We will take the real life that we have within us, that originality that we’ve got, that has nothing to do with products!”

Monday, November 26, 2007

This is coming in the mail soon!

This year for the day after Thanksgiving sales, I did a bit of online shopping. I think that I could get used to it. 50-70% savings without standing in long lines, and free shipping!
One of the things that I found was a memory foam mattress topper from, and it should be here any day. It is two inches thickWe have been sleeping on a very old mattress for a while and have been thinking of buying a new one. I bought this on the recommendation of Bethany Jean, and if it works, I will let you know. It is a much cheaper option!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

In the potato pot.... and other Thanksgiving adventures

This Thanksgiving was wonderful. I had so much to be thankful for, even in the amount of people that I was able to see. We had Thanksgiving lunch at my Aunt Kristi's house in Vista and had a surprise visit from my mom, stepdad, brother and sister. It was great to see everyone, and the food was good too. I posted a picture of my rolls. They turned out well, but didn't rise like I wanted them. They were made with some real, freshly milled whole red wheat flour, so the trade off was worth it.

Next we went over to Nathan's parents house for Thanksgiving #2. It also was a great time! Many people were able to come there also, including my favorite newest member of the family, little Paul Benjamin. He is almost four months, but looks a lot bigger! Here is a picture of him the the pot that his dad made 15lbs of potatoes in. You can see more of Paul here.

A Nice Surprise

On Wednesday after work, Nathan and I headed down to San Diego for the holiday. Work was actually going fairly well and the Partner on our audit engagement was out on the jobsite. At one point during the day, he looked at me and said that I had been working very hard lately, and asked if Nathan was missing having his wife around. I said yes, and then he told me to go out to dinner over the Holiday weekend and send him the bill. It would be a good time to "reconnect," he thought.

So Nathan and I will be enjoying Gulliver's by the OC airport on Sunday. Nathan has been wanting to go there for a long time. He hears Hugh Hewitt advertise it on his radio station all the time. They are supposed to have great prime rib!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Encouragement from a Hymn

" When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,

My grace all sufficient, shall be thy supply;

The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design

Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine."

We sang this hymn on Sunday at church. It brought a bit of peace to my soul. As I wrote earlier, this past week has been hard, and it looks like I am going to pretty much be working A LOT until Christmas. Sometimes my vision is very short and I only think of how tired I am and how difficult things seem. This reminded me that God uses the trials of working at KPMG, to refine me. If I think of my job like that, no time is wasted. I also really like how this hymn shows the love that God has for me in that he tirelessly works to help purify me.

Also, a cute thing that Nathan says when I have a tough day at work "Well, if you are looking to quit, I know someone who is hiring. Me! I have a position available for a good cook and home maker. The pay isn't great, but you will always have what you need."

Tempting..... :)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

One long week....and a date night

I have to say that this has just been one long week. Nathan and I both have been busy at work and at home. I have been on 10+ stressful days at work, and preparing financial reports for our Annual Meeting at Church tomorrow. Whew!

With the prospects of coming home, eating left over fish (which was originally made by Nathan for fish tacos- and was very good), and possibly working more, we decided to get out of the house.

We decided to have an old-fashioned date night. We began the evening with Dinner at the Macaroni Grill. I love this place becasue my family spent many Sunday's there, lunching after Church. Nathan loves it for the house Chianti. The waitress brings a large bottle to your table and you just pour it as you want more. At the end, you tell her how much you drank. Very family style.

Dinner was great. Next we stopped quickly into Target to buy Ratatoullie, the very cute new Pixar movie. The movie was very enjoyable, and it was the perfect end to unwinding after the stressful week.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Still at the Kid's table

Every year since Nathan and I have been married, I buy a Turkey and bake it. Last year I used this great recipe from my Williams-Sonoma Holiday Favorites cookbook. I cooked it for 8 hours at about 275 oF and it was perfect.

This year we are going to my aunt's house for Thanksgiving. After accepting her very gracious invitation, I asked her what I should bring. She said that I should bring the rolls. Rolls? Oh no, I thought. I am still sitting at the kid's table, not a "grown up" yet. :)

So, now my plan is to make the best rolls ever. I looked over the recipes from my favorite recipe site and came up with these.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Everyone will want to share Christmas dinner with us, or Wine and Cheese 2007

Last night was St. Michael's annual Wine and Cheese party. It is one of the biggest fundraisers for our women's group and, not to mention, the most exciting social event of the year(in my humble opinion). The general setup goes like this: We ask everyone who comes to bring a small amount to cover the cost of appetizers and cheese, as well as two identical bottles of wine. One bottle is wrapped up to conceal its identity, assigned a number, and uncorked for tasting. The second bottle is hidden away for an auction later on in the evening.

Throughout the evening, participants try each of the wines, rating them from one to five. I try out my amateur wine-tending skills, pouring wine and dropping subtle hints to the less experienced and eavesdropping on the ways of the true wine aficionados. At the end, I tally the wine rating cards and unveil the winners (We usually have one red and one white as they are VERY different animals :) ). The winners receive a lovely prize basket and then auction begins. People have tried and rated all of the wines, so now they can bid on their favorites. Last night was great! Between our winsome, charismatic auctioneer, and a lively participant shouting, "Come on! You all had mother's who loved you, and most of you have wives. This is for the women's group! Be men and bid!," we raked in an unprecedented $1200 dollars.

Nathan picked up a "Eros", 2004 blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc made by the Sunstone winery in the Santa Ynez valley. It happened to be the best bottle of wine and 2nd most expensive bottle of the evening. We will uncork it this year for a special Christmas dinner treat! See the picture above.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Mmmm... Its definitely Fall

...well about as Fall as you get in southern California. But the air is getting brisk, and someone from work brought ripe persimmons in. My roommate from College, Bethany, made the best persimmon cookies. They were spicy and the perfect accompaniment to a cup of something warm. I think that I will try this recipe for persimmon cookies: Persimmion Cookies 1

Monday, November 5, 2007

Home from the Monastery

Last weekend, Nathan went up to the monastery of St. John of San Francsico, up near Redding, CA with some friends. St. John of San Francisco lived in Shanghai first and later in San Francisco. St. John established an orphanage in Shanghai and worked many miracles. There are not many US saints, or recent ones, and he was both. He died in 1966 in San Francisco and his relics still remain there. I used to think that something like visitng relics was morbid or even superstious and un-Christian. But really, how many miles to people travel to get a celebrity's autograph, or even the annual family pilgrimage to the world of Disney (not that there is anything wrong with that). Why not travel even the few hours to see and venerate the relics of a beautiful saint? One who gave his life to save the world? Who are our heros, but them first of all? I think that we will try to make some pilgrimages in the coming year.
I was home alone for a while for the first time since we have been married. It was an interesting experience to have so much quiet, and one that I hope to repeat more often. I fared pretty well, mostly because it was only three days that Nathan was gone. But its funny how after two-and-a-half years, you don't sleep as well when your dearly loved one is gone. (Someone joked that they hoped that Nathan wouldn't take up permanent residence there. :) )Yay, Nathan is home again!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

No More A Blog Bum

I love reading the blogs of my family and friends. I love hearing how my niece and nephew are growing up, and how my friends from college are doing, reading about life in the greater Orthodox world, and even hearing some of the musings and political comments from former college professors. I leave comments sometimes, but mostly I just read them. Yes, I am a blog bum. But...... no more!

So here is my attempt at blogging. I know that Nathan and I tried before, but this time I am determined to post regularly. Though my life seems hectic right now, I want to take some time at least a few times a week to actually think about something long enough to write it down. So stay tuned! If I get really creative, I may even be able to post some pictures!