April 16, 2014

Middle of Holy Week

I ♥ these 10 minute "Coffee with Sister Vassa" episodes.
Today is Holy and Great Wednesday, the middle of Holy Week.  In general, as Orthodox Christians, we fast from all animal products on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Wednesday, because of the betrayal of Judas, and Friday, for His crucifixion.
Tomorrow is Thursday, we celebrate the Last Supper with Christ and his disciples.  This icon is especially beautiful to me, as it is the icon my parents have in their dining room and have for almost 40 years.  We grew up saying a prayer before each meal we ate together, and looked towards this icon.
We are preparing to celebrate His Resurrection on Sunday!  I've made kulich, cheese Pascha (which I use this wooden form for) and red eggs, using onion skins, which we will take to church Saturday around 11:30pm.  We have a midnight service.  This year is going to be particularly special, because we are in our newly built church!  About 4 times the amount of space.  My girls have NEW pretty skirts to wear, they are maxi skirts, and go all the way down to their feet.
I want to share with you a cookbook called Feast, featuring real food recipes (by Daniel and Haley Stewart, who blogs here:  http://carrotsformichaelmas.com/), that I just read a review of here:  http://audreyeclectic.blogspot.com/2014/04/feast-book-review.html  I think it sounds great, many of the recipes are related to Christian holidays and also, as it is spring and we are beginning to think of our garden, for our health.  We've planted only lettuce, but plan to plant kale, tomatoes, squash, carrots, beets, etc. 

I hope all of you enjoy this week and make time to read the Bible, say a few more prayers and enjoy the feast of Pascha!!!

April 10, 2014

Great Lent right now

This past week, my sister and her daughter flew down from Canada mainly for the baptism of my new little nephew.  She was also here while the icon of the Mother of God, "The Softener of Hard Hearts" was visiting our parish.
Elizabeth, who we call "Liza" for short loves to draw.  I'd gotten this easel at IKEA for $14.99 recently (and a roll of paper was $4.99) and Hannah and Olivia drew with her.  Liza is now 20 months old and asked the girls to draw books, cars, crosses, horses, etc. AND says, "I lub you." 
I'm really enjoying the cookbook Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian that I got from my aunt and uncle last month. 
I made French panisses, which is a nice vegan treat.  Basically, this recipe:  http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Panisses.  In the cookbook, she goes into great detail about how to handle the gram flour (chick pea), which is very fine and can clump easily.
 We sprinkled them with powdered sugar.
Our friends invited us over to make a grass garden with a small pot to resemble the tomb of Christ. 
The girls did a great job.  We helped them make 3 crosses to put on the top, and we talked a lot while doing this activity, about what Christ said to the men who were crucified with him, and the one who said "Remember me, O Lord, when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom." -Luke 23:42 
It's a Great Lent project that I think we'll do again in the future.  Maybe with our Sunday School children next year?  Hopefully by Pascha (we have 10 days more), it will be full of green grass!

April 5, 2014

My nephew's baptism

Today my sister and her husband's baby boy, Timothy, was baptized. 
 This is one of his big sisters, Natalia:
Deacon Alexander, the Godfather, with Timothy and both of his grandparents.  My sister sewed the baptismal gown for him, which was white with blue ribbon it, very nicely done.
A group picture, of grandpas and grandmas and his 3 big sisters and some uncles, aunts and cousins.  I wish his mama and Godmother were also in this picture!
Our friends from Penn Yan, New York (did you know it's known as "the buckwheat capital of America"?) with my parents...

March 31, 2014

Spring in Ohio

I made more cards last week for Pascha, the feast of our Lord's Resurrection.  I left some of them blank so that you can color them in as you wish, or let your children help color.  Check them out in my etsy shop:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/homemadegoodness
Friday our homeschool co-op went to the Krohn Conservatory, which is a giant greenhouse, and was so humid in the rainforest room that my camera lens kept fogging up, hence this fuzzy group photo:
One of the boys reaches toward a cacoa pod!  That's our chocolate starts off...pretty cool, huh?
The main room was Avant-Garde theme, lots of glass flowers and bowls in bold colors.
 In the cacti room, isn't this aloe stunning?
This is in the bonsai room! 
My friend, Anya, took this picture of some of us after church yesterday.  You can see 5 year old Sofia in her wheelchair and my Godson, 1 year old Timothy in his mom's arms. Her husband was working with the other men helping to assemble the new playground!  My daughter Hannah holding my nephew Timothy, who is now a month old!

March 27, 2014

Making scarves

A friend of ours showed us these pretty scarves she's been making.  Super easy and pretty ruffle scarves like this awesome tutorial.  I think she puts 4 or 5 loops on the hook before pulling it through, we did 7.  If you try this, you can do whatever look you like best, the more loops, the more fluffy your scarf will be.
So this is "art class" today.  This is the yarn (I ♥ Hobby Lobby) that Olivia is using:
 See how it stretches into a mesh?
And she just finished it!

March 20, 2014


Yesterday we made chapati.  We followed this recipe:  http://rasamalaysia.com/chapati-recipe/2/
And will be making them again!  Very simple and delicious (best warm off the pan). 
I have a wonderful memory of my Uncle Jim sitting on the kitchen floor rolling out chapati in their Massachusetts kitchen when I was a child.  My Aunt Ellen and Uncle Jim were in Ohio this week.  That's what spurred my desire to make them, recollecting that first time I had chapati...
Aunt Ellen gave us a copy of Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian as a gift.  I look forward to trying many recipes in that cookbook!
Uncle Jim played several pieces on guitar for us...one was especially beautiful by Fernando Sor.
This is my dad's sister, Aunt Ellen, with her husband Jim and our girls and Rob.  It's also the day we celebrate my dad's "namesday" as when he was baptised he chose St. Paul the Simple as his patron saint. 

March 18, 2014

St. Oliva

Today is Olivia's namesday (following the Old Calendar), the day we celebrate the saint for whom she is named, St. Oliva of Brescia, Italy, who was martyred under the Emperor Hadrian in 138 AD. This icon was hand-painted by Fr. Paul Akmolin and given as a gift from my parents to Olivia:
Since it is Great Lent, we are making an effort to go to more services, and give alms by helping  others.  Unfortunately, we are not able to attend as many services as the new church is much further than the old church was...
Olivia is collecting money to donate to OCMC (Orthodox Christian Mission Center), in this little box with a slot on top, that we got while at the homeschool gathering at Christ the Savior church.  I also want to start this prison ministry with my Sunday school class:  http://theorthodoxprisonministry.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/BBB_diy.pdf

We were able to attend Holy Unction (the anointing of oil, for the remission of sins) while the Kursk icon visited our parish last week:

One of the passages from the Bible that is read during that service is:
"A certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him." Luke 10:33-34

And another (although the healing is not merely for those sick of the body, but those who are sick of the soul...whose soul is pure?):
"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."
James 5:14-15

Little 5 year old Sofia is home!  The surgery went very well.  Tomorrow is her little brother's first birthday!