St Nicholas Day

One of my favorite traditions to celebrate during the Christmas season is St Nicholas day. In the Orthodox Church, we celebrate the life of Saints on their feast day, and St Nicholas’ feast day is December 6th. This was not something we did growing up so when I learned about it as an adult, I couldn’t wait to celebrate it!

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A brief history on Saint Nicholas (from “The true story of Santa Clause begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, and died in an epidemic while St Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to ‘sell what you own and give the money to the poor,’ St Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships. One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman's father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man's daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.”

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St Nicholas is a very special saint to our family because he is our Godson’s patron saint, he is known as the patron saint for children, and our parish in New York is named after him. We love St Nicholas!

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To prepare for this feast, I buy gold coins and oranges from our local grocery store. I like to also give my girls one special present. This year they received some beautiful floral bows from Fancy Free Finery. On December 5th, we set out our shoes by the door. I also have a special hand painted icon of St Nicholas that I ordered from an iconographer I found on etsy (link here) so I set that out with the shoes as well. That evening, after my daughters are asleep, I fill our shoes with the golden coins, oranges, present and set out the various St Nicholas items from Emilias Post’s St Nicholas Day kit that I bought a few years ago (a few story books, post card of St Nicholas, print with hymn to St Nicholas). When the girls woke up, we went to see what St Nicholas left for us! I read the story of St Nicholas to my oldest, we talked about how he helped the poor because he loved God (and my daughter loves to repeat “because he loved God”). Last year we made cookies in the shape of St Nicholas, but this year I didn’t have it in me (aka newborn life) so we ate cookies we bought from the store. It was a really special day and I look forward to celebrating this year after year as my daughters grow!

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Here are some more photos we took with our Fancy Free Finery bows for our fun collaboration! We got to share our St Nicholas tradition with their followers! You can find our story series on their highlights for “Holidays with..” highlight! Click the link to check out their instagram.

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Elizabeth’s dress is from Old Navy and Adelaide’s dress is from Carters

Elizabeth’s dress is from Old Navy and Adelaide’s dress is from Carters

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St. Phanourios Donuts

One of my favorite things to discover are new traditions that I can share with my family, so I thought it would be fun to share a little tradition with you that you may or may not know about! 

Have you ever heard of St. Phanourios? I sure hadn't!  Well, that is, I hadn't until my friend introduced me to him! One morning, Elizabeth and I showed up to my friend Alexis' apartment for a usual playdate/mommy-hang-out. She set out homemade donuts on a pretty wooden cake stand on her kitchen island and had iced coffee ready to go. Side note, if you ever get the chance to make a friend like this, never let them go! GOD BLESS HER! I was struck with how adorable these donuts looked all covered in yummy powered sugar and inquired more about them. She said "Oh this is my St. Phanourios cake I was telling you about! I just made it in donut form!"  I'm pretty sure my response was something dramatic like, "Ummm what? Is this a thing? I forgot! Remind me again about this Saint."


Have you ever lost something and thought, "Gosh I wish I could find that! If I could, I would ______." Well, this might interest you! St. Phanourios is known in the Orthodox Church as a saint who helps people find lost or stolen items, or helps single people find a spouse! Neat huh? We can ask the Saints for help! We ask St. Phanourios to help us find whatever it is we lost, and when we find it, we bake a cake and share it with friends and loved ones as a way of giving thanks. And today is actually St. Phanourios' feast day (August 27th). Which is just another great reason to make these yummy treats!


Later Alexis explained how she lost her daughter's earrings that were a very special gift, so she prayed and asked for St. Phaniourios help to find them, and she found them! So as a way of giving thanks, she baked Fanouropita (or St. Phanourios cake). I asked her if other people make this cake into donuts too, because clearly I've never heard of it, and she actually wasn't sure if anyone did, but she had a really great recipe from Figs and Feta Blog that she adapted and made into donuts. GENIUS! What a fun way to give thanks to God for His saints for helping her find those special earrings that went missing. Not to mention a very YUMMY thanks!  I cannot wait to share this tradition with my own family and to teach my children these rich traditions as we live out the life of the church! 


You can find the recipe for Fanouropita that Alexis used here (just bake it in a donut pan instead). If you want to read more about the life of St. Phanourios, I've linked a few useless websites below:

And just for fun, here are some cute pictures we took of Elizabeth later that day in Central Park. Mommy playdates with a photographer are the best!



That Little White Dress

I didn't realize at the time how sentimental this dress would become, but it's officially been worn for 4 very special occasions - during our pregnancy announcement with my oldest + 2 maternity sessions + a mommy-and-me session when Elizabeth was 4 months old! So I thought it would be special to put together a collection of photos taken of me wearing my "little white dress".  I'm pretty sure this dress was purchased off the clearance rack at Target 3 years ago. I had no idea at the time that this would be THE DRESS I would wear for all of these special moments. So let's take a walk down memory lane together, shall we? 


After a very heartbreaking miscarriage, we found ourselves pregnant again with my oldest daughter. We were married 8 years by this point and longed to be parents. I felt so thankful God blessed us with a child. She has enriched our lives in so many ways!

Flash forward a few weeks, this is me, 23 weeks pregnant with my oldest, Elizabeth, standing on a log in a frozen waterfall. Just put 2 photographers together and we will find a way to get an amazing shot! These photos were taken in San Bernardino mountains, CA. Fun fact, this is the same location that Parent Trap was filmed! I'm so glad she convinced me to take these photos. I was a goof and didn't really want to take maternity photos, but I'm so glad I did. That's my little girl in there, nearly 2-1/2 years ago. I absolutely loved being pregnant and cherished every little wiggle, kick and discomfort. They were all gentle reminders of this precious life growing inside me. What a special time of life awaiting my little girl. 

Can you see the frozen water? So rad! Photo by  Bethany Miller Photography

Can you see the frozen water? So rad! Photo by Bethany Miller Photography

I'm so blessed to know some amazing photographers! When Elizabeth was 4 months old, we did a mommy-and-me shoot with Annie Vovan. Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to get married and have a household full of babies! Becoming a mother was a lifelong dream. Like most dreams, they aren't a fairytale ending. Motherhood/parenthood is a holy and life-changing task.  I wish I could say that mothering came naturally to me, but truthfully it was a rocky beginning. Through prayer, faith, humility, and trial and error, I am finding my way. It often feels like I'm shedding layers of my old self and discovering a new self that I never knew existed. I am being transformed daily into a new person and it's through this transformation that I find my purpose and meaning as her guide in life! I don't think there is more meaningful and important work on this earth than raising children. She brings so much joy, happiness, love and appreciation into our home and I'm reminded over and over again why we chose this life. She is my whole world and I wouldn't want any other life than the one we are living.  

For this shoot, I decided to use the same white dress I wore for my maternity shoot and I'm so glad I did! Who knew this dress would become so sentimental? Look at my little pumpkin!! I cherish these photos so much and am reminded of those early days when I was truly learning what it meant to be a mother. 

And just for fun... I'm adding these darling pictures of Elizabeth because OH MY GOSH SHE'S ADORABLE!

Finally, here is that same little white dress with my 24 week bump with baby #2. Although I'm not really a sentimental person, I'm pretty sure this dress will stay with me for many years, and maybe I'll pass it on to my girls to wear one day. It's unexpected what things will take on a special meaning, but this little white dress has definitely become something that brings a smile to my face every time I see it because it reminds me of the many milestones we've been through together!

This pregnancy has been so good, praise the LORD. I always joke that my family must be created to make babies because my mom and sister both equally love being pregnant. But I absolutely love carrying this little life and wonder often who she will become. Will she be like her sister? Or will she give me a run for my money ;) Either way, I can't wait to meet her and get to know her and watch her grow. Sometimes I have to pinch myself just to be reminded that this is my life, it's real! Growing my little family and loving every minute of it, struggle and all! 

Thanks for taking a walk down memory lane with me! You can follow along with my current bump journey on instagram with my hashtag #asceticlifebumpdate <3