March 29, 2013

Vegan (and gluten-free) day

We had homemade granola with almond milk for brekkie.  For lunch, we made taco salad using:
  • organic baby greens
  • black beans
  • cumin
  • diced tomatoes
  • corn
  • guacamole or chopped avocado
  • Kraft catalina or creamy Italian dressing (both are vegan)
  • corn chips to top
That is definitely one of our favorite meals.  The girls ask for taco salad often.  For dinner, we had hash browns and lentil soup.  Vegan and gluten-free!
Friends from our homeschool group gave us these small books to help us journey through Great Lent.  Each day after we say morning prayers and read the Bible together, Hannah & Olivia get their books out to check off what they've done.  The best thing that has come from this is their desire to be a part of alms giving.  Our church is having a canned food drive, and so the girls each picked out some of their favorite items (raspberry jam and tuna fish) to place in the bin.  We volunteered at Matthew 25 several times recently.  They also started making simple fleece tie blankets, as a Sunday school project to donate.  And, Hannah has started to crochet a hat for Calvin's Hats.

Olivia spotted a butterfly yesterday in the backyard.  I got my camera and it was still in the area!
I've been drawing.  Make more cards to add to my etsy shop. Matroshka girls knitting, with a basket of carrots and an egg from the chicken...

One of my favorite authors, Alexander McCall Smith, will be in town next week.  I ♥ his series The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books, which take place in Botswana.  I also really, really liked his book La's Orchestra Saves the World.  And his children's book The Great Cake Mystery is another excellent one.  I think we will bake a cake with jam, like there was in the book, to take when we meet him. 

March 25, 2013


Larks (

6 cups flour (I am using half whole wheat and half unbleached white)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups warm water
2 1/4 tsp. yeast

1 tsp. vanilla extract
orange zest (optional)
cloves, raisins, or cranberries for eyes
sunflower seeds or whole almonds for beak

Mix the warm water, yeast, honey, oil, flour (a cup at a time, stirring well before adding the next), salt and the vanilla or orange zest (if using) together well. Knead about ten minutes. Place in a bowl and let rise until doubled in size.
Divide the dough into 40 pieces. Roll each piece into a long round shape. Tie each piece into a knot (we did not do this, but just formed it into a nice bird shape). Make one end into the shape of a head for the bird. The other end will be the tail feathers with a knife cut little lines. Put two cloves, raisins or cranberries (you can get creative) on each bird for the eye and a whole almond for the beak.
Bake until lightly browned atop, for maybe 20 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. We didn't got 20 out of this batch, so I made 2 batches, in honor of the 40 martyrs of Sebaste.

I went to church 9 times in the past 9 days.  There were a total of 11 services in the past 9 days, though.  We are fortunate to live just 3 miles away.  Yesterday in church, we celebrated the restoration of icons.  I thought this would be a fun craft to do:   
Thank you to Presbytera Angela of The Orthodox Children's Press for sharing that!  Also, she is doing a feature on kids, and both Olivia and Hannah were featured last week.  I asked them if they wanted to join in after we saw David's article and they typed in the answers to the questions and chose the pictures themselves to send in.  

For Sunday school yesterday, the older kids had been working on presentations of their patron saints (for about a month) and shared the poster boards they'd been working on with the younger children.  I think their Sunday school teacher took pictures and if so, I'll see if I can get them and share them.
I ordered a copy of this book The Hidden Garden as a present for someone.  ♥
I plan to get some raw cashews from Trader Joe's to try this recipe this week.

March 18, 2013

St. Oliva and bread larks...

During Great Lent, which is 40 days, plus Holy Week, in which we remember the trial, crucifixion and finally the Resurrection of Christ, we focus on simple things in life, our salvation, fasting, praying more, and reading about examples, Christian saints.

In honor of the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste (this Saturday March 10/23), we will be baking bread shaped as larks.  The larks represent the Holy Spirit that was over each of the Roman soldiers who were Christians.   They were stripped of their clothes and set upon a frozen pond, with a warm bath nearby.  One soldier left and went to warm  himself.  There were just 39, then, but a guard who was watching, saw a brilliance over them and confessed himself as a Christian and joined the martyrs, so there were indeed 40.  May this be an example to us, that we all do what is right in our lives, for the salvation of our souls.  This is how the bread looked last year.  This year, I hope they will look a bit more like that little one, using an almond as the beak.
Today we remember St. Oliva, of Brescia, Italy, who was martyred under the Emperor Hadrian in 138 AD.  My daughter (4 years old, at the time) is standing next to her pillow on her bed. She has a little icon of St. Seraphim on the top, and some flowers from church, along with pussywillows from Palm Sunday 2007.
And a picture of her today.  I made a sunburst braid.  Here's a video tutorial.  I actually made 3 more of them today, one with Hannah's hair and 2 of my niece's hair, too.  Very pretty!  My husband and girls after the parade this past rained all night, but thankfully not during the day.

March 8, 2013

Seed cakes

We have been reading The Hobbit, slowly, but together...and baked some seed cakes following the recipe in my Grandma's copy of Joy of Cooking that I have:

2 cups butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
9 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon mace (I didn't use this)
2 tablespoons brandy (optional, I actually couldn't taste this)
4 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (I used baking powder instead)
1/2 teaspoon salt
9 egg whites, whipped until stiff
2 teaspoons caraway seeds (I also used 2 teaspoons poppyseeds)
1/3 cup shaved citron or candied orange peel (I didn't have this)
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind (I used about a tablespoon of orange zest instead)

Cream together butter and sugar, then add egg yolks, vanilla, mace and brandy.   Sift together flour, cream of tartar (or baking powder) and salt.  Mix the flour blend into the butter mixture.  Fold in the 9 whipped egg whites.  Add caraway, poppy and citrus.  Mix well and pour into baking pan. 

Bake at 325' F for 25 minutes (or 1 hour 15 minutes for loaves).  Allow to cool.  Enjoy with plain yogurt or a cup of tea while reading your book.

This makes 24 little round seed cakes (I used my muffin tins)!  Or two rectangular loaves.
This is Elizabeth, at 6 months...
We call her "Liza."  My feet.  And the fabric rattle block that Hannah sewed for Liza as part of her babysitting class she's currently taking.
We went out to eat with my parents this past Ruby Tuesdays, who was giving back 20% on the bill to Parkinson's wellness.  We all had a good time!
Hannah got ribs!  Mmmm....messy fingers.
 Emma and my dad, Peepaw.
My mom and Liza.
Wednesday, my sister, Mary, her husband, Andrey, and baby Elizabeth were headed back home to Canada.  We skipped everything else, we got we went sledding!!! 
Olivia made a snow angel.
 Natalia crying, Hannah helping her...
Susanna gives Olivia and Juliana a big push down the hill...and below, Olivia just laying in the snow. 

March 4, 2013

Sofia is 4 today!

Happy 4th birthday to Sofia!!!  I took this picture of her with her parents at a baby shower last month.  It's not a very good picture, especially because it was in the midst of a game where everyone tried some baby food and was trying to guess which kind they had (the labels were off)!  She is going to have a little brother this month.  His name will be Timothy.  The umbilica cord stem cells are going to be used in her cancer treatment.  They are life-saving cells, that are often discarded.  I know when I was pregnant with my girls, I looked into having the cells saved, but the fees at the cell bank (where they freeze them) are quite high.  I wish I'd known that you can donate the umbilica stem cells so that someone else can benefit from them!

We are blessed by quite a few precious additions to our church this year...children who are coming here to Cincinnati Children's for cancer treatment.  Last week, I shared with you about Salomia, who was just 7 years old and passed away from complications of cancer.  So, if you can say a few extra prayers for these little ones, I'm sure God will listen.  ♥