December 30, 2013

Wedding reception of our dear friends

Our friends were married in the church on Nov. 17th, 2013 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa...and had a wedding reception over the weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio with their family and friends.  ♥
Olivia and Rob went to the bar and got a Shirley Temple...then another and another...
And Hannah, had a few...made with ginger ale and a splash of grenadine, garnished with a cherry.
One beautiful wedding cake, and two vegan cakes...
Rob and Hannah...who did a little reel for the newlyweds.  She loves Irish dancing!
Our family with the new Mr. and Mrs. Davis....they are so sweet.  ♥

December 27, 2013

First week of winter...

 A bit of merry-making and music...
My dad's little sister, Sarah, and her 4 year son have been in town this week, all the way from Vermont.  She is musically talented, plays the guitar, flute and sings...she taught Hannah a few new songs, including "I can see clearly now the rain is gone."

We had a good amount of snow before it was officially winter and then warm weather rolled in and lots of rain...but the past few day have been lovely and sunny.
 Olivia working on her rainbow bracelet loom...given to her from a karate friend.
We took our family visiting from Vermont and New York to see our new church!  There has been a lot of joy in being together.
Then, we headed north to spend time visiting with Rob's folks.  He cut up a fallen tree. 
I just heard that my Aunt Valerie in New York was admitted to the hospital today, she has congestive heart failure.  Please say a prayer for her. 
And little Sofia today ♥  (this is like the Russian and Ukrainian version of Facebook, where her parents update her current status:  She had another stroke since I last posted an update...and is now unable to see!  I babysat for her little brother Timothy on Dec. 25th.  Many people have helped, by taking a day this week...  I am  thankful to have such a great community of people in our parish, who drop everything in their life to help out this family in need.

December 23, 2013

One week...

Our 4 year old friend Sofia had a stroke one week ago.  I went to the hospital to visit her today.  She was so cute, telling her parents, the nurses and doctor that she wants the mosquito out of her arm.  That's what she calls the needle!   She also said "golova bolit" which means "head hurts"  many times.  She had a tube that is draining fluid from her head, where she had surgery last week.
My friend Lena and I went to the store together and bought her a Christmas tree.   Our homeschooling group also gave her a bunch of gifts, some arts and crafts items and little toys to keep her entertained.  She will probably be there for a few more weeks.
Her mother is spending a third of the day, approximately at the hospital, but needs to take care of Timothy, who is still breastfeeding, too.  It's not easy.  Her heart is pulling both ways.
I was feeding her lunch when she threw up.  All of it...
So, please please keep her in your prayers. I took these photos before I left.  Hannah and Olivia would have come and visit her, too, but they only allow visitors over 14 years old.  She was drinking some water and fell asleep.  Her father (in Ukrainian they say "Tato") hasn't left the hospital all week... 

December 18, 2013

Popcorn and cranberries...

We used a needle and thread to string cranberries and popcorn...and then hung it on the Christmas tree we got last year (which we planted in our front yard), for the animals to enjoy.  There are a few pinecones hanging on the tree, too...we smeared peanut butter on them and then rolled them in birdseed.
We made vegan gingerbread.  This is one of my favorite recipes!  I decorated mine using all natural nuts and raisins and some dried ginger for buttons.
We made icing using the juice from 4 lemons and confectioner sugar.  Yum!  I ♥ ginger and lemon.  The girls used lots of coloured sprinkles. 
Olivia made 2 special cookies, one for Grammie (with white coconut for hair) and one for Peepaw (beard of white coconut)!
We babysat my Godson, Timothy, yesterday and today again for a few hours.  His big sister, Sofia, is 4 years old and battling cancer...her heart stopped twice late on Monday, so she is at the hospital.  They did surgery and she is still in a lot of pain.  Please keep her in your prayers...and her parents, Sergiy and Maryna.
Sofia a few months ago with an older woman from our church:
We made paper snowflakes, while he took a nap.
He admired them.
Olivia dancing with Timothy.
Tomorrow is St. Nicholas day for those of us Orthodox Christians who follow the old calendar.  I sewed 14 fabric bags 2 weeks ago, for the kids in our homeschooling group...and plan to put some goodies in the two for my girls.  I ♥ fabric bags you can reuse!

December 11, 2013


We got more snow this week!  That's our car covered in it...
There is Olivia in the midst of shoveling Peepaw and Grammie's driveway.
Afterwards, we went to pick a friend up and go sledding...
We packed 2 stainless steel flasks with hot chamomile lavender tea...and some dark chocolate from Trader Joe's for a mid-sledding snack.

I blanched my own almonds (4 cups of them, I got a 16 oz. bag of them at Trader Joe's for $4.99), by letting them sit in a bowl of boiling water for a minute and then pouring the water out and removing the skins.  It took me a full hour!
My old Hamilton Beach food processor (which was given to us USED by an elderly man from church, after his wife passed away), which was probably 15-20 years old, stopped working a couple of months ago.  Finally, this past Saturday, we got a NEW Hamilton Beach one for $49.99 at shreds, slices and purees.  I use it to shred cheese & carrots often and also want to use it like a blender to make smoothies. 

The snowballs were good, but still too wet and squishy, didn't set up nicely.  I just used vanilla extract instead of amaretto, maybe that's why they didn't seem great.

I made a second batch and used "Just Cashew Meal" ($5.99/16 oz. bag of simply ground raw cashews) from Trader Joe's in place of the coconut in this recipe (I like that it called for maple syrup instead of icing, and I think the coconut oil helped it firm up a bit better)...I rolled those in confectioner's sugar, instead of shredded coconut so they looked the same. 
Cute new flannel bedsheets with Russian matroshka dolls on them, from Target!

December 6, 2013

Snowy day

Edible snowballs...I hope to make these soon:

Amaretto Snowballs
  • 2 cups blanched almonds
  • 1 cup gluten free icing sugar + extra for coating
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 1-2 tbsp amaretto liqueur (or amaretto extract for a non-alcoholic, child-friendly version)

Soak the blanched almonds in water overnight. Drain completely and grind in a food processor until a very smooth paste forms. Add the icing sugar, almond extract and amaretto towards the end and continue processing to combine all the ingredients well.

My girls each made a giant snowflake.  They are hanging from the ceiling in our living room.  It is really snowing outside.  It's been coming down for about 5 hours so far here in Ohio.  My husband made a fire in our woodstove before he left for work.  We are quite cozy. 
A wonderful video tutorial here (I ♥ how the girl says you can use the scrap you cut off as a bookmark):
I found a frame (8.5 x 11) for my new icon of St. Herman of Alaska that we got last weekend in Lake Odessa, Michigan. 

December 2, 2013

St. Herman's

 All the icons in the church of St. Herman in Lake Odessa, Michigan are painted by the priest's wife, Darya Carney.  She gave us prints of the icon of Saint Herman of Alaska that she painted to share with the families in our parish. 
Beautiful icon of the Mother of our Lord.  

Father Michael is given a new cross by Bishop Peter from Martha Pavlovna on Vimeo.
After the service, we had lunch together.  Everyone was so welcoming and friendly.  There were several performances, Father Michael played the guitar and these three sisters sang:
Father Michael is very musically talented.
He played the banjo and accompanied two young boys who sang "In the highways, in the hedges I'll be somewhere a workin' for my Lord."

I'll be working for my Lord from Martha Pavlovna on Vimeo.

One of the girls there is also an Irish dancer!  She danced beautifully, reel in soft shoe and then a hornpipe song in her hard shoes, and kept on going even when the CD player accidentally stopped!
Then, my husband got his mandolin out of the car and he and Father Michael played (the banjo) together.  ♥