Books in 2014

Now that Christmas is done, I have less knitting projects to post. I still have two projects I’m working on. Flip-flap fair isle mittens for my mom, and a scarf for my husband.

I have read more books this year than I have in a long time. I read 27 books (11774 pages) this past year. Most of that is probably due to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I am so very hooked on that series. I binged on that. It is so good. After I finished that series, I decided that I should read more.

The one that started it all!

Here’s a list of books that I read this year and some of my thoughts on them.

1.The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet: Make Lunches Your Kids Will Love with More Than 200 Deliciously Nutritious Meal Ideas by Laura Fuentes

There were so many good ideas in this book. I need to buy it. It has a list of all the recipes in the back of the book, you can mark whether or not the kids liked it, what you need to change in the recipe, etc. Pretty awesome.

2.The Joy of Hobby Farming: Grow Food, Raise Animals, and Enjoy a Sustainable Life by Michael Levatino

The more I read about farming, the more I want to do it and I figure the more I read about it, the better educated I will be when it comes time to purchase some land and animals.

3. Let it Rot!: The Gardener’s Guide to Composting by Stu Campbell

I’d say this is a good resource book to have on the shelf if you can’t figure out why your compost pile isn’t working like you want it to. I think the biggest struggle for me and my compost pile right now is putting enough brown materials in it. I have bunches of vegetable scraps, but not so much of anything else.

4. Bringing it to the Table: Writings on Farming and Food by Wendell Berry

Reading this book is enough to make anyone who has the smallest interest in farming or food production want to run off and purchase a farm.

5. The Call of the Farm by Rochelle Bilow

This book started off really good, but it kind of turned into a love story, not that that’s bad, but I wanted more farm details in it. I did read it rather quickly. I think the author is a good writer.

6. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander, #8) by Diana Gabaldon*

I waited for over a month on my library’s wait list for this book. It was well worth the wait. I think that during that wait I thought about what was going to be resolved from the previous book almost every day.

7. The Guru, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios by Dionysios Farasiotis

This book is by far the best Orthodox book I have read in a long time. It was in a very conversational style, and was more like a biography than anything else. I read it very quickly, I’m very interested in the topic here. It deals with demonic possession, hinduism, witchcraft, and how to escape those things.

8. An Echo in the Bone (Outlander, #7) by Diana Gabaldon*

This novel is set during the beginnings of the American Revolution. Both sides are represented. So good and definitely a cliffhanger ending.

9. Harvest: Field Notes from a Far-Flung Pursuit of Real Food by Max Watman

This book was interesting because it dealt with food in a more realistic manner than the idealistic organic typical foodie. He shared failures and successes.

10. A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander, #6) by Diana Gabaldon*

You just have to read it.

11. Family Life (Spiritual Counsels, #4) by Paisios of Mount Athos

I highly recommend reading this book and re-reading it. I need to buy it. Elder Paisios goes through young people figuring out what they’re going to do with their life (going to college, what to study, etc.) and getting married, raising children, and taking care of elderly parents. It will cause you to question the way you do things. It has changed my life.

12. The Fiery Cross (Outlander, #5) by Diana Gabaldon*

On the eve of the American Revolution

13. The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade by Philip Jenkins

I believe I wrote about this book in a previous post. But suffice it to say that you can tell Mr. Jenkins has a protestant paradigm that taints the way he sees and writes about Catholic and Orthodox Christians (though I’ll have to give him kudos for even mentioning Orthodoxy).

14.  Drums of Autumn (Outlander, #4) by Diana Gabaldon*

Read it.

15. Voyager (Outlander, #3) by Diana Gabaldon*

This was was a bit harder to get through than the others, but it’s worth it.

16. Parenting With Love and Logic by Foster W. Cline

Has some really good ideas, but somewhat hard to implement with toddlers who can’t converse with you.

17. Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander, #2) by Diana Gabaldon*


18. Outlander (Outlander, #1) by Diana Gabaldon*

I got hooked on this series by listening to a podcast from craftsy that they had with Diana Gabaldon because evidently Jamie Fraser knows how to knit. Little did I know that it would become a series that I couldn’t put down.

19. The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish by Linda Przybyszewski

This is a history of fashion, mostly it’s practical and functional uses and how clothes were made. It’s made me think a lot more about what I wear. In the past year, I have worn more skirts. I only have one pair of jeans and the rest are skirts, though I bought myself a pair of leggings so I could wear skirts in the winter and not freeze.

20. The Handmade Marketplace: How To Sell Your Crafts Locally, Globally, And Online by Kari Chapin

I took notes on this one. I’m just starting to sell my hand knits. I don’t think it will turn into a full-time income, but it helps a little. By the way, if you want something knitted, I will happily quote you a price.

21. United States of Americana: Backyard Chickens, Burlesque Beauties, and Handmade Bitters: A Field Guide to the New American Roots Movement by Kurt B. Reighley*

This book went through various new movements within american agriculture and pop culture. It was rather informative and I hadn’t heard of some of them. Entertaining.

22. Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us by Christine Gross-Loh*

I found some things that I would like to implement in this book, but somehow I think that maybe the culture outside of us will have more influence than we would like.

23. 8 Weeks to Optimum Health by Andrew Weil

I took notes on this one too. Some of the things he mentions are not hard to do, others are like ‘yeah, right’. One thing he recommended was to have a news fast. Don’t let all the negativity of the news and/or social media get to you. Just turn it off. I already do a version of that.

24. A Man is His Faith: Ivan Kireyevsky and Orthodox Christianity by Alexey Young

My husband got this book on interlibrary loan from the University. It was a short book, but really good. Ivan Kireyevsky was a lay person who had a very wide influence in Russia. Good person to know about.

25. Organic Gardening For The 21st Century by John Fedor

Good resource and inspiration for things to think about.

26. To Hell with All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife by Caitlin Flanagan

This was an entertaining read. Some things I could relate to, others I could not, but if you want a light read, try it.

27. Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit : the lives and counsels of contemporary elders of Greece by Middleton, Herman

This book is a compilation of the lives of Elders and their selected writings. We read it in the Women’s Faith and Growth meetings at my Church. I loved it and the conversations it inspired. I started reading more books about and by Elder Paisios. That information has changed my life.

I love the printed book. The smell and feel of the pages. It’s wonderful. I love libraries. Thank God for libraries!

My goal is to read 50 books in 2015. Here’s hoping I don’t fall off the bandwagon. You can follow me on goodreads.

A Man is His Faith: Ivan Kireyevsky and Orthodox Christianity

I finished reading this book yesterday. I got it on interlibrary loan. There are only 4 copies according to the WorldCat database in the United States. Sometimes I have what you might call more academic interests than the average person who uses the public library. I realized that the databases that the public library has access to is NOTHING compared to a University library. It seems to me that they should be interconnected, especially if it’s a public university. Anyways, I’m glad I was able to get this book.

Ivan Kireyevsky was a layman in Russia who was trained in Western philosophy. He came back to Orthodoxy in his middle age. Because western philosophy had infiltrated Russian thought, especially among the intelligentsia and upper eschalons of Russian nobility, he was trying to reveal the truth of Orthodoxy to them and expose the faults of western paradigms.

My husband found a reference to this book in Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works by Hieromonk Damascene. I’m so glad we were able to read it. I highly recommend it to anyone who can find a copy or get it through interlibrary loan.


This Was From Me

“This Was From Me,” is a famous letter attributed to  St. Seraphim of Viritsa that was sent to his spiritual child, a bishop, who was in a Soviet prison at that time.  The consolation and counsel offered to the bishop can help anyone widen their perspective in a way that makes the impulses appear smaller and God’s providence even larger than life.

“Have you ever thought that everything that concerns you, concerns Me, also?  You are precious in My eyes and I love you; for this reason, it is a special joy for Me to train you. When temptations and the opponent [the Evil One] come upon you like a river, I want you to know that this was from Me.

I want you to know that your weakness has need of My strength, and your safety lies in allowing Me to protect you.  I want you to know that when you are in difficult conditions, among people who do not understand you, and cast you away, this was from Me.

I am your God, the circumstances of your life are in My hands; you did not end up in your position by chance; this is precisely the position I have appointed for you.  Weren’t you asking Me to teach you humility?  And there – I placed you precisely in the “school” where they teach this lesson.  Your environment, and those who are around you, are performing My will.  Do you have financial difficulties and can just barely survive?  Know that this was from Me.

I want you to know that I dispose of your money, so take refuge in Me and depend upon Me. I want you to know that My storehouses are inexhaustible, and I am faithful in My promises.  Let it never happen that they tell you in your need, “Do not believe in your Lord and God.”  Have you ever spent the night in suffering?  Are you separated from your relatives, from those you love?  I allowed this that you would turn to Me, and in Me find consolation and comfort.  Did your friend or someone to whom you opened your heart, deceive you?  This was from Me.

I allowed this frustration to touch you so that you would learn that your best friend is the Lord.  I want you to bring everything to Me and tell Me everything.  Did someone slander you?  Leave it to Me; be attached to Me so that you can hide from the “contradiction of the nations.”  I will make your righteousness shine like light and your life like midday noon. Your plans were destroyed?  Your soul yielded and you are exhausted?  This was from Me.

You made plans and have your own goals; you brought them to Me to bless them.  But I want you to leave it all to Me, to direct and guide the circumstances of your life by My hand, because you are the orphan, not the protagonist.  Unexpected failures found you and despair overcame your heart, but know that this was from Me.

With tiredness and anxiety I am testing how strong your faith is in My promises and your boldness in prayer for your relatives.  Why is it not you who entrusted their cares to My providential love?  You must leave them to the protection of My All Pure Mother.  Serious illness found you, which may be healed or may be incurable, and has nailed you to your bed. This was from Me.

Because I want you to know Me more deeply, through physical ailment, do not murmur against this trial I have sent you.  And do not try to understand My plans for the salvation  of people’s souls, but unmurmuringly and humbly bow your head before My goodness.  You were dreaming about doing something special for Me and, instead of doing it, you fell into  a bed of pain.  This was from Me.

Because then you were sunk in your own works and plans and I wouldn’t have been able to draw your thoughts to Me.  But I want to teach you the most deep thoughts and My lessons, so that you may serve Me.  I want to teach you that you are nothing without Me.  Some of My best children are those who, cut off from an active life, learn to use the weapon of ceaseless prayer.  You were called unexpectedly to undertake a difficult and responsible position, supported by Me.  I have given you these difficulties and as the Lord God I will bless all your works, in all your paths.  In everything I, your Lord, will be your guide and teacher.  Remember always that every difficulty you come across, every offensive word, every slander and criticism, every obstacle to your works, which could cause frustration and disappointment, this is from Me.

Know and remember always, no matter where you are, that whatever hurts will be dulled   as soon as you learn in all things, to look at Me.  Everything has been sent to you by Me,    for the perfection of your soul.  All these things were from Me.

Byzantine Hymnography

I’m going to start my research back up on Byzantine Hymnography. I contemplated doing a doctorate in the subject for a while, you know, before I got married and decided that going to Princeton was probably not the best idea in the world.

I did a little presentation on it in my graduate classes in music history. There are definitely a scarcity of resources in English about it. The most Western notable sources seemed to be Egon Wellesz and H.J.W. Tillyard, who it seemed through their writings had a skewed sense of the Orthodox Church, which is of course, the tradition that the hymnography is in.

I just looked on my computer for the power point presentation on Byzantine Hymnography and it’s 47 slides long. And my computer is being really slow in loading it.

Here’s my game plan – probably not in the right order – 

  • I have to learn Greek, and probably some other languages.
  • Find more sources for historical research, preferably ones that aren’t in the vein of Wellesz and/or Tillyard, more that come from within the Orthodox Church.
  • Be able to read Byzantine Notation
  • Be able to chant… will take loads of time.
  • Find more written manuscripts and recordings, not necessarily in western notation