Friday, November 20, 2015

A Recipe: London Fog Tea Latte

This afternoon during our Quiet Hour (see below post), I decided to be more adventurous with my afternoon cup of tea. After visiting a David's Tea store yesterday and seeing a woman with a fabulously yummy-looking drink, which she told me was a "chai latte", I ran a search on how to make such a latte for myself. Luckily, I have a fancy new milk frother (thanks, husband!), and with its help I may have found myself my go-to afternoon drink from today on!

How to make a London Fog Tea Latte (aka an Early Gray Tea Latte)
*I should mention that I am not even a fan of earl gray tea normally...not until today, that is!*

You will need:
One Earl Gray or Lady Gray Tea Bag (I used Lady Gray today)
8 oz. of boiling hot water
1 T. of regular sugar
1/4 t. vanilla extract

Place the tea bag into the 8 oz. boiling water and let it steep for about 5 minutes.
Remove the tea bag and stir in the sugar and vanilla extract. (I actually used 1/2 T. of sugar for fear of it being too sweet. I think I'll put in 3/4 T. next time).
Steam the milk either in a frother/steamer or on your stovetop. Add in to the tea and stir. Voila! Enjoy!!

Preferably, drink in a beautiful tea cup :-)

Quiet Time

One of the most commonly asked questions I get as a stay-at-home Mama to several little ones is, "how do you not go insane?" That's a question I have to often ask myself so that I make sure that I stay sane (even though, my priest once told me, "we are all a little bit insane". I love that.)

One of the main things I have tried to learn how to do in my almost 5 years as a mother has been to keep myself grounded and in a good psychological state so that I can be the best mama and wife that my children and my husband need me to be. One of the things that has become a custom in our house is "quiet hour", which is at least an hour long each day, immediately after lunch. This is the time when the toddler naps, and the older two children each sit on a couch within my sight. It is also the time I sit down at the table for usually the first time all day (not including our morning lessons, when we sit on the couch together). For our Quiet Hour, the rules for the kids are that they need to stay on the couch (or inside the teepee, or on their Anywhere Chairs), and do something quiet. I have always dreamed that I'd put together nice "quiet time boxes" like I see on Pinterest, but in my reality, this has not happened and I am ok with that. I kind of prefer they learn what to occupy themselves with, anyway, because I will not always be there to hand them a box of fun goodies (lol). So, they choose books or quiet toys and sit resting for a solid hour. Before I go on, please remember that my reality is far from perfect: so, the kids do not always sit perfectly silently, and there are always interruptions of one sort or the other. But the point is, I do not end quiet time until a full hour has passed because that is what all parties need after a busy morning. Some days are very successful, and other days, I need to remind the kids what "quiet hour" is all about.

My routine during this very beloved time of day is to clear off the table from lunch (which the kids help with), wipe down the table, and put everything away (food and dishes, napkins, etc) so that I have a clean kitchen to work with in the afternoon and evening. Once the kitchen is clean and the counters are wiped down, I make myself a nice hot cup of tea, or a cafe latte. This is my favorite time of day! I sit down and savor every sip of that latte, and usually I either read a book, browse Pinterest, or knit as I sip. This gives me the right amount of time to re-gain energy for the rest of the day, and also to get some mental quiet/peace time, which is always very needed. Some days, if the kids rested nicely, I let them watch 45 minutes of a TV show (99% of the time, something in Russian), and I continue my quiet time by knitting, or do quiet housework, or knit.

My husband recently sent me a surprise gift in the mail - a milk frother. This, together with my stovetop espresso maker, has been making the best afternoon lattes!!! Today, I tried something new: a tea latte. I LOVE it! I will post the recipe I used in my next post so that this post doesn't get all cluttered.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

An Easy November Project

This year, so far, we have been very blessed with some pretty mild fall weather. Though we have had a few days that required bundling up, most days we can still get away with being outside in just a sweater. It has been so nice! There is nothing I personally hate more than having to bundle up each kid in layers before going outside...and doing it for months and months on end. Definitely enjoying this mild weather while it lasts!

We have been keeping busy with some fun and very easy fall crafts in the house. I have noticed since we began homeschooling that my son is extremely artistic, and he isn't even 5 yet. He can take a glance at something and copy it really well. He colors completely in the lines, and he draws a really impressive picture off the top of his head! However, I have always been less than a lover of art and the reason for that is probably because of my serious lack of skill in the art department! That said though, I want to nurture my little guy's talent as much as I can, and since getting him into an art class right now is not really feasible, I figured I would try to give him as much opportunity as I could at home. Don't be impressed though, because I really am taking it slow. I am not a fan of projects that require me to run on a shopping trip to Michael's and spend a lot of money on materials, followed by the prep work, or projects that leave me more exhausted than I was before we began. So it is with great thanks to Pinterest that I have been able to find a few easy and low-stress/low-mess projects to do with the kids. I thought I'd share for the other Mamas out there who want to keep their kids busy with something a little more special than just plain old coloring.

The first project we tried out was making leaves on bare trees with the use of a dish brush and some paint.

I downloaded the template here and printed out one for each of my older kids. I printed it onto cardstock because I thought it would be nicer to use rather than paper, considering the paint factor.

Then I had the kids color in their trees and the grass below. I helped my 3-year old because she is not a huge fan of coloring.

Next, I gave them some fall-colored paints on a plate and a dish brush each. I had them dip their brushes into whatever color paint they wanted, and paint some leaves onto their trees. We also put some "falling leaves in the wind" for effect. They did need some help getting started and a few examples for technique. When the trees were dry, I cut the white off the bottom, mounted them onto some colored construction paper, and voila! They hang so nicely on our huge bay window, adding some fall color to my kind of bland decor (I'm still learning the ropes of home decor!!!) :-)

Just a note to add. I have been slooowly reading through the book The Artful Parent, and this book is so wonderful in guiding clueless, not-so-artsy mothers on how to incorporate art into their kids' everyday lives. I love it! This project was not from that book, but I wanted to recommend the book to other Mamas because it is that good. It is worth every penny. I am going through it slowly for a second time, in hopes that I can actually incorporate the recommendations the author gives into our lives one bit at a time. So far, we have built play-doh into our daily routine pretty well, and coloring as well. The kids are having fun experimenting with different mediums for coloring and drawing. Though it can sometimes get messy, like when they are using markers, (nothing a hand wash cannot fix, though), it is really fun to see what they each do with the various types of coloring tools! Even the 22-month old joins in on the fun!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


I have been absent for a whole month because things have been going non-stop in a whirlwind and frankly, I've been exhausted! I am about to head into my 3rd trimester of this pregnancy, and some days I feel a rush of what I need to get done in preparation for this baby, and I just start without stopping again until the kids are in bed at night. Most of what I have been busy with has been housekeeping and de-cluttering, which is a job that never seems to end! I'll share some of what I've been up to in later posts.

For now, a few days late, a little look ahead into November.

St. John of Kronstadt (Nov. 1)
Archangel Michael (Nov. 21)
Start of the Nativity Fast (Nov. 28)

Note: These are clearly not ALL the important days on the calendar for this month in terms of feasts, but since the kids are still little I am keeping things simple (and also so that I can keep up better!!) Mostly, we are learning about the feast day and talking about it, and if I can, I find a video on YouTube, or an icon for them to color in pertaining to the saint/feast. The Nativity Fast will have an activity of its own.


Continue with the fall clean-up of the home
Plan out a cleaning list for the Nativity Fast
Start thinking about where to set up baby's crib and clothing in the next few weeks to prepare for his arrival



Special DaysThanksgiving on the 26th! This year, we will celebrate with my almost entire extended family!


Plan and budget for gifts for our December birthdays and Namesdays, and St. Nicholas Day
Finish planning and creating an Advent Calendar and activities for the kids
Finish learning & Practice our "Thanksgiving Concert" (we are planning to perform it for family on Thanksgiving Day), and practice "stage etiquette"

KnittingFinish knitting baby's blanket before Thanksgiving and blog about it
Start knitting a black scarf for hubby for his birthday