Author: Bley

Getting started with Pysanky

Well, one more week until Holy Week, just enough time to consider whether you might like to try the traditional Easter art of pysanky!  Pysanky, or the creation of decorated Ukrainian Easter eggs, is a very old practice that originated in Eastern Europe.  Traditionally during Holy Week, and in some communitites throughout Lent, Ukrainian ladies would gather in the evenings to decorate these special Easter eggs to adorn the baskets that they would bring to be blessed Easter morning.  The baskets were a celebration of new life, often including things that had been given up during Lent, such as meat, eggs, and rich breads. Last year I was curious and decided to try this art for the first time.  My children joined me in learning, and we have all come to enjoy and value this quiet, simple, meditative activity.  Perhaps you might like to try it as well this year? The materials you will need are very simple and inexpensive: a kistka (writing tool) beeswax for pysanky a candle and holder matches eggs (you can …

Nativity Artwork for Children (and their Grownups!)

We have had some time this Advent in our elementary Sunday School class while we practice our Christmas play and music, so we decided to do some special projects to share, because I deeply believe that Advent is for making. I thought it would be fun to share a few step-by-steps for making these simple nativities with children and/or adults.  With a bit of advance planning, we completed these in about 20 minutes, leaving us with enough time for some singing and play prep.  This coming Sunday we will wrap them, and send them home to place under the Christmas tree. Do let us know if you make these!  You can tag us on Instagram @thehomelyhours, or leave us a comment here with a picture. Materials: 8″ x 10″ canvas panel for each person (get them on sale; they are almost always on sale:) Acrylic paint in: white, turquoise, gold, yellow, orange, brown. Paintbrush for each person Paper towels Aluminum foil Aprons and patience! Method: Step 1: Before your class or gathering, prep your canvas backgrounds …

Advent Saints Coloring Pages

Are you looking for a simple way to incorporate some feast day celebrations into your Advent this year?  One of our parish members, Michelle, has created these lovely coloring pages for you to print as you will and enjoy with your family.  We are currently in the midst of a very busy season in the life of our family, so this will be about the extent of our feast day observances this year.  I look forward to joining my children in some quiet coloring time!  Thank you again, Michelle! StNicholasColoring StLucyColoring  

A Productive Home

When my oldest two children went to school, my unspoken daily goal was to bring my home back to a “showpiece” state every morning after they left.  Problem was, I still have several young children and babies at home, so you can imagine the tension this created.  Our visual culture tells us that to be a “successful” homemaker (and this does not just apply to stay at home moms, but any person who has a home), our home needs to look Pinterest perfect all the time. Home in our culture is no longer a place of production.  The only “meaningful” things that happen at home anymore have been relegated to hobby status: cooking, crafting, the cult of organization.  All of our modern conveniences have ensured that housework can be done in the minimal amount of time, so we can move on to more important things.  And I enjoy the benefits of this, as we all should. But what if Home was meant to remain productive?  What if the messes that are created daily at home …

A Valentine for Parents {From the Archives}

One thing I love about the prayer book is that it gives direction that is simple, precise, and Christ-focused to my thoughts and inward groanings.  This is the prayer that I say the most, under my breath, in desperation, at the end of a long day as I fall asleep: Almighty God, heavenly Father, who hast blessed us with the joy and care of children; Give us light and strength so to train them, that they may love whatsoever things are true and pure and lovely and of good report, following the example of their Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen. Click the image below to download a free printable of the  Parent’s Prayer  pdf from Esther Bley Designs.

Three Kings Crowns (From the Archives)

The Epiphany, or The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, is celebrated on January 6, with the season of Epiphanytide running through Shrove Tuesday.  There are several events in the life of Christ that we celebrate during this time, where He revealed Himself as the Saviour to both Jews and Gentiles.  The first is the visit of the Magi to see the newborn Christ. To mark this day in our family, we usually wear crowns, and dress up as kings and queens, to remember the visit of the Magi.  Some years, we have saved a special present for our children from Christmas, and given it to them on Epiphany.  I created these crowns in case you would like an easy way to remember and talk about the visit of the Magi with your own children. KingsCrown – There are three crowns in different color ways included in the file for you to print at will. We share these resources and ideas with the understanding that celebrations do not always have to be elaborate to be meaningful. …

“The Great O Antiphons” with New Printable Ornaments

Singing or reading the Great “O” Antiphons in the week leading up to Christmas has become a lovely tradition of my own that I try to observe during Advent.  This year, I plan to print these images that I painting last year, and make them into ornaments with my kids.  I share them here in case you would like to do the same. As part of our Advent devotions, we will likely cut these out, and someone will write the accompanying verse and plea on the back.  Then we will hang it on our tree, alongside the Jesus Tree ornaments we have read.  Simple, short, but a way to continue to look forward to our Savior’s arrival.  And if in the madness of life we don’t do it this year, we will try again next year. The Great O Antiphons Ornaments

St. Lucy’s Crown Printable

St. Lucy’s feast day is on December 13th and we have a simple free printable to help you celebrate. Who was St. Lucy? All that is really known about St. Lucy is that she was a young martyr during the Diocletian persecution of 304 A.D. The story passed down to us is that Lucy was born of noble parents, but her father died when she was around 5. Lucy devoted her virginity to the Lord, but her mother, not knowing this and looking to settle Lucy’s future since she was suffering from a bleeding disorder, arranged for her daughter to marry a wealthy pagan man. Lucy was told in a vision that her mother would be healed. Believing this, she told her mother to distribute their riches and the patrimony. When Lucy’s betrothed heard, he was angry and denounced her to the governor.  After Lucy refused the governor’s order to burn a sacrifice to the emperor’s image, she was sentenced to be defiled in a brothel. However, the guards could not move Lucy, even when they …

From the Archives: St. Nicholas Day Treat Bag

Saint Nicholas Day has come to be one of my favorite Advent traditions.  It is a bright and celebratory spot in the waiting weeks of Advent, and it reminds us of a man of faith who loved, and brought joy to, children.  There are many great resources about Saint Nicholas: Saint Nicholas Center – A site packed full of information on “the original Santa Claus,” with lots of information on Saint Nicholas, and ideas for activities, food, and other ways to celebrate. Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend – This story elaborates on the idea that Saint Nicholas’ good works and generosity all stemmed from his love for God. The Baker’s Dozen – My favorite St. Nicholas Day story, about a baker who learns to be generous and open-hearted the hard way.  The illustrations in this book are stunning. In past years, we have done homemade gifts for all of our kid friends, and delivered them on Saint Nicholas Day, with a little note.  Since we have a new baby in the house …

A Holy Year Calendar

Isn’t it interesting that the Christian year begins the first Sunday in Advent?  What a lovely way to orient ourselves to a new year, by beginning with quietness and darkness, preparing to welcome the great light of Christ. I painted this church year calendar for my own children, as a way for them to visualize how the changing sundays and colors of the church year correspond to the seasons.  Now that we live on a farm, I am even more appreciative of the endless sundays in Trinity, that ordinary time, that is full of the necessary and mundane business of life.  As we approach winter, with less “ordinary” work, our time is free for celebration and feasting. Please enjoy this printable with your own family, and Happy New Church Year! A Church Year at Home