April 30, 2014

Sick this week...

Hello friends and family!  ♥  Christ is Risen!!!  We celebrate Pascha (the Lord's Resurrection) for 40 days, until Christ ascended into heaven.
We've been taking turns being sick in our house the past few days.  Lots of hot tea and honey.  Praying that we didn't unknowlingly pass this on to others and that we will be healthy soon!
Last week, my sister from Canada and her husband and their little daughter were here to visit.  My girls saved up some money and we went shopping.  Hannah bought herself this pretty aqua scarf, which she can wear around her neck, even in summer, it's lightweight and breezy, or as a head covering for church!  She also got herself some sunglasses and those jeans she's wearing.  Olivia bought a beautiful dress, which I'll have to take a picture of her in to share...
Look at little Liza in her jammies...she loved this little window.  It had kisses all over it.
We made this pretty cake, inspired by this recipe, only I couldn't find rosewater.  They were delicious buttery orange cardamom cakes!  My sister did a great job decorating them, adding violets (which are edible) to the top! 

April 23, 2014

Christ is Risen!

The Resurrection of Christ, Easter, Pascha...we sing "Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and on those in the tombs bestowing life!"  This is the middle of Bright Week, instead of regular morning and evening prayers, we sing the beautiful Paschal Hours.  We sing "Lord have mercy" 40 times and like to sing it in 4 different languages, 10 times each, in English, 
Greek (which is Κύριε ελέησον and sounds like "Kírie eléison"), 
Arabic (which is يا ربّ ارحم and sounds like "Yā Rabbu rḥam") and 
Russian (which is Господи, помилуй and sounds like "Gospodi, pomiloi").
We make eggs red by using yellow onion skins, traditional Russian-style bread, kulich, and here, Olivia puts on raisins on the sweet cheese pascha.
After Liturgy on Bright Monday, we had a procession around the church outside.  It was beautiful weather. 
Two of my nieces with icons of their patron saints:
My little nephew Timothy wore a seersucker handsome!
Elizabeth wearing my sunglasses this afternoon.
Today is my husband's birthday!  We had a wonderful meal together.  My parents brought over cheesecake and I made carrot cake with cream cheese frosting for him.  ♥  My brother-in-law from Canada took some pictures which I hope to add here later.
(yes, they are expecting their 2nd baby, October 9th)

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:, that I just read a review of here:  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:  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...