December 26, 2012

Of 1862 era dancing, ice skating AND folk dancing!

Or, in which our family accomplishes the extraordinary feat of attending three different events in one Saturday! We enjoy going ice skating every Saturday afternoon, and there was the possibility of attending some weekly folk dancing at night....but the night before we also discovered a free event occurring that Saturday: the 19th annual Christmas ball at the Old Courthouse

The idea turned out wonderfully; especially considering the late notice! We girls quickly rummaged around the basement and attic for our Civil War era gowns and hoops, and enthusiastically donned them Saturday morning. At the Courthouse, there first was some basic dance instruction from 10am-11. The Ball started at noon, and we stayed until past 2 pm. Enjoyed every part of it, even though we didn't know any of the other dancers! (However, we really hope to do more events like this with friends in the future! There is just one more ball at the Courthouse, on Jan. 5th 2013)
                                From the event's website: being taught basic dances; 
                                 Nikola in purple, Jessie in maroon, Valerie in blue)

After the basic dance instruction, while we waited for the ball to commence at noon, our parents and the younger ones went to the Arch to venture up it, since the children never had! (neither have I; but it sounded like fun....maybe I will try it sometime!) Close to the time the ball was to begin, we were surprised to see a lady dressed in bridal array mingle among the costumed attendees. Soon, we found ourselves witnesses to a special ceremony renewing the wedding vows of a history-loving couple who have been married ten years! I must say, it was a good idea. Although I felt a little funny being there, as total strangers! 
picture from the event's website- the marriage vow renewal 

Let the grand ball begin! To my great delight, the music was provided live by a brass band up in the ''balcony''! All this elegance...for free! (t'was the Independent Silver Band)

    As for dances....they were pretty easy to learn. I don't remember the titles, but they were mostly walking dances. Perfect for accomplishing with hoopskirts. Even the Virginia Reel we did was very slow... but also enjoyable nevertheless. And...drumroll....we learned how to waltz passing well!!! :) Finally. Thanks to the patient instruction of the dance mistress. 
Oh: it was funny, at the beginning of the ball, we suddenly had an audience of Bosnian or Croatian folks watching us! As well as friendly Japanese- some of whom even asked to get their picture taken with my sister and I! Always glad to give pleasure to others. :) 

Videos! They are very short; don't feel frightened to watch them! However, remember always turn them off before the 'ads' pop up at the end!
the band played from above us!

                        A lady watches 'in awe' as my lovely sister sweeps by in her purple gown:

My sister Jessie is in the maroon and lace dress (which she borrowed from Nikola- ah! the joys of sisters!)

 The only picture with me in it! I am in brown with my hair up; Sam is diagonal from me, and Elodie is beside me. I wish'd to have worn more of a ball gown, but alas!  thought it was going to be cold that day...

Other was fun to meet others there, some of whom had traveled from hours away to come to this event!

our sister Valerie and partner

Even before this elegant ball was over, our family hastily took our leave and rushed home to change skating! It was a beautiful day, not too cold to enjoy whizzing around the rink which we and our other ice skating-loving friends had all to ourselves!


Next, we spent a couple hours at home, eating supper....before many of us headed out to University City to join the International Folk Dance Association group in folk dancing! 
The people there are always so friendly to us, and patient with us when we take a while to get the intricate steps of Serbian and Macedonian dances! That last event of the day was fun as well as we learned and danced old dances from the Balkans as well as Israel, Brittany, Canada. 
We found it very humorous when one of the dance instructors began carefully teaching a certain dance which, from the very first ''walk forward 4 counts'' felt suspiciously like....''Progressive Gordons''! And so it was! Only this time it was done double time to a rocky Irish tune! Haha. And all the folk dancers were delighted with it, and requested a repeat. Wow. It just was so funny, since we've kind of grown up doing that dance at our Balls....
It was fun! 

   And we were all ready to work extry hard on Monday! (pictures of my room renovation-a hobby of mine to do a couple times at least every year- and  new decorations-yay! coming sometime!) Needless to was a busy Saturday! 

Hope you have been having a grand December, and that your Christmas was joyous and special!!!
I hope to post's just hard to find the time and this computer (shared between...four peoples at least) isn't always available when I am, and vice versa

November 21, 2012

Thoughts for Thanksgiving

"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
 For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations."

Even when life seems difficult, I have to admit that God has been gracious beyond anything that we could EVER deserve. Throughout the year, we all need to remember what blessings the Lord has bestowed on us. 
A couple years ago, I started a simple tradition of writing a list at the opening of the year of all the good things I was looking forward to that year. (not necessarily goals that I had to work towards accomplishing, although that certainly is good; just moments I was looking forward to.) At the close of each year, I have been astonished by the dozens of surprises God gave us the past year that I had no idea He would. Do it; try writing down all that God has done in your year...! You will never finish. Because of course there are blessings in disguise as well. I also include these in my list at the end of the year. The lessons learnt, trials overcome, chastenings sent, etc. Sometimes, those are the greatest blessings of all. Because what really matters is growing in the Lord, and learning more about Him. 

I hope you have found much to be thankful for this year! 
Studying history always really opens my eyes to what I have to be grateful for in my life, and what is required of me in my future as a citizen of a presently peaceful land. Both of those aspects are overwhelming. I know I'm a little late in learning all this, but the full impact of what it means to have so much at our fingertips hit me.All my life it was a thought in the back of my mind however, this year as my family friends and I have discussed together, I saw how much has been invested in we young people....and that we can't let it go to waste. When I think of all that the Reformers and Pilgrims (and the Christians before them!) went through to honor God's truths....and how we so often take everything we have so easily for granted....we must not continue in apathy! We must be grateful for what God has given us and use it wisely- to glorify and honour Him!

I am thankful for.....

.....Where God has placed me in life.....and who He has placed me with!.....

                                           November 2012
My family June 2012
....My friends...and people in general!....(too numerous to picture here!!!)
My closest friends: my siblings! November 2012

....opportunities to learn from great Christians and to grow up with like-minded people...

...good books...


....times to enjoy God's marvelous creation...

And.....need I continue? Because I could! 
But instead, I will ask you what things you are especially thankful for today! 
I will share more about what I loved about this the beginning of the next one, like I usually do!  :)
Have a blessed Thanksgiving. I'd love to hear about what you did to celebrate God's goodness!

July 31, 2012

Free books for bloggers/ PaperBackSwap

Do you love to read? And love to write reviews? are several great ways to get entirely
 FREE Christian books for yourself! (of course writing a 200 word review isn't work!)
Naturally, these are Christian books written in 2011/2012, so they don't have the deep content of books written decades ago. Often the doctrine is wrong. But I have happened across several good books anyhow!
Books I received for FREE from January to March 2012!
5 of these were worth keeping; pretty good for free. :)

BookSneeze, the first program for which I signed up, has proved to be the easiest and best still:
I review for BookSneeze®
Christian books published by Thomas Nelson publishers.
Bloggers get free books- signing up is very easy; you give your blog address where you will be posting the reviews. This is the easiest site to request books on, as well as to send in your review since you just post the links to your review on their website....and they have had a large variety of not only e-book, but also print books available in the past! I have enjoyed and kept most of the books which I chose from them. 

125 x 125
Another site of Christian books. Set up is simple, as well. As is the process of entering your review links, and requesting your next book.

My second-favorite company is: 
Christian books from small companies- I have received over four books through them, so it's safe, although it's not as professional as the other companies.  When you sign up, you have to wait for an email, and to request a book, just visit their page of available books (link provided in an email they send you) and click on the request button under the book you desire to review: this will open up an email to send to them; make sure you include your mailing address. 

I Review For The Tyndale Blog Network
(click on icon above)
TYNDALE PUBLISHERS (Christian books- system works through your email: you sign up, they decide if you qualify, then they send you names of books available through email. Pretty good, although there aren't many books available.)

My least favorite program, this one is pretty simple as well, although I haven't cared much for their books. They always notify through make sure you check your email if you want to know about books! They will also send you an email when you request a book, and they will tell you where to send your review....

New Leaf publishing
Books from Answers In Genesis, and more, this program looks exciting to me. I look forward to requesting good books from them.
The company has to make the decision before letting you join.....But it's worth a try!

LASTLY....what do you do with these books if you DON'T want to keep them after reading them? Why....SWAP them, of course! :) You are not allowed to sell the books you received in exchange for a review, but definitely suggest swapping through this fantastic program: PaperbackSwap!

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

Signing up:
When you sign up, through the below link, they will ask you on the page if anyone referred you. I would be SO happy if you would say I referred you! (my name on the site is ''Mazzou'')

More about the site....
You simply join, just start listing books you have which are in good condition, and when a book is requested from you, you package the book and pay for its shipping. When the book is received by the other member, you will get a credit (1 credit per book!) to use to request any book off the site for YOURSELF! :)
As a special incentive, when you list 10 books, the company automatically gives you 2 credits as a gift.  And the referral system gives you 1 credit every time a friend lists 10 books.
I must admit that not all your favorite books will be available immediately. However, each person gets to add as many as 200 books to their wishlist which will enable you to keep in line as you wait for your desired book to be posted by another member. (I am sure this sometimes takes years....but oh well! I am grateful for the wishlist system.) I actually have received a couple books already from my wishlist!

Book quality:
 I have, so far, received over 4 great books in like-new condition! Very exciting. (if you do not want any books worse than ''new'' condition, you can specify that on your paperbackswap club account!) You can swap books which are in good condition, or newer. There is even a forum on the site for swapping damaged books.

My success story:
In fact, two like-new Christian historical fiction books which I recently received I would have paid over $12.00 each if I had purchased them from the company we usually do....through PaperBackSwap I ended up paying only $3.17 for both!(where do I get this $3.17? from the cost it sent me to mail out 2 books previously in order to obtain the 2 credits to spend on these two books I requested!) See what I's great!

Choosing books to swap:
Note: If you don't have books in your home which you want to get rid of on PaperBackSwap, you can always purchase books from your thrift shop, library, etc. I suggest you look out for lightweight books, so you can spend less for your credit. Also, you might want to contemplate which books are highly desired in the can find this out, and more, on the site!

Comment on this post if you have any questions, or if you already use PaperBackSwap!

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

June 14, 2012

Author Deborah Alcock

Deborah Alcock
   I have only read six of Deborah Alcock's many books, but each was a spectacular work of historically accurate, exciting Christian historical fiction! Can anything get better than that? I highly recommend these books. I have always loved well-written historically accurate books of adventure, intrigue, excitement, with also a little sadness, a little romance....but of such I have rarely found books which also present a strong Christian message!
I don't believe I am overstating when I say that you will love these books. They appeal to a wide group of ages....although I suggest someone pre-read them for children under the age of 11. And although I am sure a younger child could read them, I assure you they are so well-written in the delightful style of the 19th century so as to appeal to young adults as well. Lastly, they are wonderful reads for both boys and girls! Continue reading my thoughts at end of this post. Thank you!
Of interest: Read a full-length biography of Deborah Alcock's life here!

Crushed Yet Conquering  by Deborah Alcock
This tale of Constance and Bohemia will be under our BOHEMIA section at our table (One Covenant, Many Countries) at the Conference; also at the Inheritance Publications booth.

"A gripping story filled with accurate historical facts about John Huss and the Hussite wars.  Hardly any historical novel can be more captivating and edifying than this book."

This, the first Deborah Alcock book I read, has continued to be one of my very favorites of hers. Due to its length and heavy historical content, it is most suited for older children's reading; but all can enjoy it. 

The Spanish Brothers by Deborah Alcock

"He could not die thus for his faith.  On the contrary, it cost him but little to conceal it.  What, then, had they which he had not?  Something that enabled even poor, wild, passionate Gonsalvo to forgive and pray for the murderers of the woman he loved.  What was it?"

This well-written story portrays an intriguing story where two devoted brothers plan to find their long-lost father.  While the one brother, Carlos, went off for training to be a priest, the other, Juan became a soldier.  Read of their adventures and, ever more so, of their faith as they face persecution during the time of Spanish Inquisition. One of the most colorful and dramatic of Deborah Alcock's books, this is my sister Jessie's favorite along with Dr. Adrian (see below). And one of my favorite as well.

Done And Dared In Old France by Deborah Alcock
Inheritance Publication's Huguenot Inheritance Series #7
Read of the faith and courage of 10-year-old Gaspard who flees from France to England.  Captivating, inspiring, and historically accurate, this exciting book tells the story of a young boy of Huguenot family  who, captured by salt-smugglers, attempts to join his family in England. The famous (historic) Claude Brousson plays an important part in the life of (fictional) Gaspard. 

Doctor Adrian:  A Story of Old Holland
Doctor Adrian by Deborah Alcock
Through unexpected circumstances, scholar Doctor Adrian became involved in supporting the Protestant cause.  In this book, you will feel the tragedy of the Seige of Leyden as the Dutch felt it, understand the hope those same citizens experienced when William of Orange (William the Silent) came to succor them, and feel the personal turmoil in the life of the fictional Dr. Adrian....This inspiring, exciting story is a tale of his conversion.  Along with The Spanish Brothers, this is my sister Jessie's favorite. 

The Baron of Salgas; The Cross and The Crown; The Carpenter of Nimes by Deborah Alcock and Sabine Malplach

THE BARON OF THE SALGAS, A True Huguenot Story by Sabine Malplach  AND:
THE CROSS AND THE CROWN & THE CARPENTER OF NIMES, Two Huguenot Stories by Deborah Alcock

Three tales of the the danger faced by the Huguenots of France, involving family relations, imprisonment, and escapes. Although I own this book, I have hardly read it as of looks very good though!

By Far Euphrates: A Tale on Armenia in the 19th Century
By Far Euphrates by Deborah Alcock

This is one of Deborah Alcock's best. It is incredibly moving since it takes place in the 19th century, a time when the majority of the western world was living in ease and prosperity! In writing his, Deborah Alcock studied so in depth the trials of the Armenian christians and heard so many heart-renching stories from a missionary friend who had been there that not only did she sum up the horrors of the massacres in Armenia with this simple sentence in the book: “We will not read about this subject; we will not think of it.  It is too horrible. … We cannot take up this burden in addition to the rest.  It would sink us.”; but she also became very ill from the strain of putting herself in the place mentally of these suffering Armenian Christians. Of all her books, this one touched her life the most deeply since the tragedies had been played out during her lifetime. Her goal with this book in fact was to bring to the light the martyrdom of the Armenian christians, and to raise money for the widows, orphans and mutilated survivors of the massacres! Although this could be an incredibly gruesome book, I think Miss Alcock did a marvelous job of showing only what could be stomached by us weak people of the western world! 

Again....if you like books by G.A.Henty, Ballantyne, Robert Louis Stevenson, Douglas Bond or Lamplighter Publishing books....I trust you will love these just as much. And I totally recommend substituting these  historical fiction books for any non-christian historical fiction or fiction and definitely fantasy books you now have on your shelves!....ENJOY.

March 23, 2012

Photos: Tamburitzans show part 2

As promised.... more pictures from the Tamburitzans show I mentioned in a previous post:
One of the best shows! The second half was especially colorful, as you will see in the following pictures! I had SO much fun taking pictures. :) I was torn between my desire to just WATCH, and my wish to keep clicking pictures! So I did both. :) I especially like photographing dances which we have seen in the past because I know when the most amazing parts of the dance come; and whether I should attempt to take pictures or not at those great times!
For this final half of the show, there were vibrant dances from Russia, Ukraine, Slovak gypsies, Roma (Romanian gypsies-yay!), Romania, and Bulgaria! There were also beautiful pieces of music and song, but since I can't share the sounds of them with you, I'll focus on pictures of the dances...

Duquesne University Tamburitzans 75th season show part 2:
Russian dance: ''Summer'' (made famous by Moiseyev dance ensemble)

Alot of Ukrainian performers in the Tamburitzans group this year; the main dancers Natalia and Vassili are Ukrainian which was very fitting. :)

And the dance begins! I love the way it starts slowly....but reaches a beautiful climax!

My camera is not quick enough to catch the amazing athletics! But I love these. :)
This is definitely a favorite dance, and the Tamburitzans did a marvelous job with it! One of the best renditions.) the Moiseyev dance group doing the same dance (Summer), and I want you to watch one of the best climaxes ever in a dance! Start at 4:00 on this video of the Moiseyev Ballet company!(You can watch all of it, if you like- but specifically 4:00 onwards. :) LOVE it!)

(''Summer'' dance performed by Moiseyev dance company)

I also found this: start at 4:57!  :)
That is the same ''climax'' that I'm talking about!
(The whole thing looks pretty neat, but I might lose you if you start watching it from the beginning- it's 7 minutes long!)

Oh- and girls only (on account of short skirt): watch from 6:35 to 6:45....isn't that what you've always wanted to do?
Some twirling!!! :)
Anyway....that's the same dance the Tammies did. :)

The Tamburitzans ''doing the climax''!!! YAY!

Some dancers (Denitsa Tuneva in front)watching a soloist twirl across the stage (like in movie, if you watched far enough)

The Tammies were, in a way BETTER than the Moiseyev ballet company, since they added a whole part to the dance with AMAZING men's acrobatics. :) yay!

OH! The ending is fabulous, as well! (make sure you watch it on video above!) The Tamburitzans did it JUST as great-ly as the Moiseyev company! So thrilling.

Triumphant ending

Nikola Vranjasevic
This was a fun piece with all men playing instruments and each would hand his instrument to another while he ''showed off'' with amazing dance steps (gypsy), and then switch so another could show his talents! Good stuff. :)

Alex Cartwright, accordionist

The all-girls dance was a combination of sweetness and playfulness: Laundry girls from Ukraine! Plenty of beautiful twirling, which Ukrainians are talented at! (Note:the Tamburitzans would have presented this dance even if they didn't happen to have a lot of Ukrainian girls as performers, but this year they just happened to, so the dance looked especially good. I mean....Bulgarian girls can do it, but it just wouldn't look the same!:))

Ukrainian laundry girls:Natalia Tarasiuk, Natalka Karaman, Irena Goudimiak....

Another dance in the show:
A Slovak Gypsy dance called ''Dance of the Violins''!  A very pretty dance, half traditional, half stylized, with the movements based on the motions of playing a violin.....a beautiful choreographed dance, and the costumes were a girls' dream! (well....mine at least ;))

Although I could not get any clear pictures, I think the blurry-ness just adds to the colorful ''gypsy'' feel, don't you?

Look at the girl on the left:isn't that pretty, with it being all fuzzy, and she's looking down, and her toes are pointed, and the color of red is so lovely....

The end (note the position of their arms, as if they were playing violin....very neat! Oh, and it's fun because they all dance so well, but each has her unique style! Note: every dancer was Ukrainian! They've never had so many Ukrainian solo dancers before!:)) from the ROMA dances! Yay! The Romanian gypsy dances are more sophisticated than what you might be imagining from seeing Russian, Slovakian or even Spanish gypsy dances, and with just enough fun gypsy stuff to make you LOVE watching it. (seriously, they are good dances)
We specifically enjoy watching the men's solos, with their amazing footwork, stamping and clapping.
(a tiny note to friends: if you ever wonder what my brother is trying to be when he's clapping and stamping at our dance practices-specifically during the Virginia Reel- it's a gypsy. Just thought I'd tell you. :)
And it's a worthy endeavor, I assure you!)

Romanian gypsies couples dance


We also always enjoy the Greek bouzouki music and songs:

Andrew Dorfner playing bouzoukee

Nikola Vranjasevic playing bouzoukee
And now...drum roll....the best costumed dance of the show! We LOVE these colours! The women's outfit is spectacular. :)
This is a Romanian dance, and every picture I am going to show you from it is a favorite! (I was particularly able to snap good pictures of the beginning of this dance because it is very elegant and slow, and because I had already seen a previous rendition of it, so I was prepared. :))

LOVE this scene!

The dance speeds up!

You think this women's costume can't get any better.....but then they turn and you see that there's a golden butterfly embroidered on the backs of the vests! Amazing! :)

The beautiful Natalka Karaman!

Surprisingly....that dance wasn't the finale of the evening. There was more music, and a sweet Jewish song/dance, before the exciting finale dance!
Freshmen Tammies

....That finale dance was a Bulgarian Shope dance!!! Very intense, energetic, and exciting:

The men

The girls coming forward

Everyone dancing together

Waving goodbye until another year!
The Tamburitzans were very busy that night: they drove in just to perform for us in Illinois, then straightways after had to drive back to Pittsburgh PA to perform the following day! Thank you!

(although the Tammies were rushed to leave, we managed to continue our ''picture with a Tammie'' tradition. Happily, that Tammie happened to be Nick Jovonovich, a great family favorite!
From left to right:Nikola, √Člodie, Sam, Nick, Marjo/Alexandre, Jessie/Val√©rie, and in front: Katia and Laura-Lise.

Good memories of a delightful event. :)
I hope you all enjoyed the pictures, and were inspired!!!

See even more pictures from this show here in my facebook album!

Before you leave, I want to assure you:
you NEED to see this show. You will NOT be disappointed. The way they present their show is priceless. The costumes, music, choreographies are both authentic and beautifully arranged.
(note to my conservative friends: this show is wonderful for the whole family! I can not say that about every single show, but this season was perfect for all of your family to watch and ENJOY! And I will give you a heads up when their new season begins....and whether I think it is entirely ''family friendly'' or not. :) )

Although the group is finishing its performance routine this season, you can still catch a show!

If you are in Pittsburgh PA, Williamsport PA, or New York City NY: You still have time to catch a show before the Tamburitzans finish their 75th season! (click that)

If you are in Paramus NJ, McHenry MD, Allentown PA, Euclid OH, you can still see the group in April!
click here:

And I'll post again when the Tamburitzans announce the 76th season show, and give you a ''preview'' of what the show will be like.....:) I hope many of you will go enjoy this group this season or next!