Happy Name Day!

Stop by our online shop and order a card to express your well wishes for Name Days and Birthdays.

Here are few things to write:

Not sure what to write on a Name Day Card?   Traditional greetings…

  • May you find what your heart desires
  • May you have years of happiness and peace in your future
  • Remembering you and your patron saint on this holiday

And a little humor…

  • What time should we stop by to celebrate together? 
  • I understand you’re buying dinner!

Remember, when you write it on a V’s Cardbox card, you write it on something they’ll keep!

Box of 10 4.25″ x 5.5″ greeting cards, 100lb matte finish, color – blank inside. Packaged in a clear plastic box. Item #: 50-001P10

Folding Palm Crosses

One of my favorite memories is folding palms with our church youth group.  We were raised in a large community where thousands had to be made and we were the ones to do it.  It was nice to be part of something that was going to be blessed and offered to the faithful.  It was truly an honor.

There are many different ways to make a palm cross.   You can use one strand or two.   With one strand you begin by folding it in a right angle.  With two you can make a larger cross and you have to fold the two thick ends together.

In this video I have recorded parishioners of St. Nicholas Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, FL as they fold palms for Palm Sunday.

 

 

Greeting Cards for Easter “Christ is Risen!

 

A Natural Red Dye for Easter Eggs

Holy Week is quickly approaching and one of the traditions of the Orthodox Christian is to color eggs red on Holy Thursday.   There are many dyes and food colors to help you get the job done but I prefer to use yellow onion skins.  It’s a natural dye.  It’s an ancient practice.  The color is a deep rich blood red and not a candy apple red. But mostly because it think it’s cool that yellow onion skins make red dye.

Making the dye with yellow onion skins

Collect yellow onion skins. Yes, YELLOW ONION SKINS. Not red onions.  Yellow. If I didn’t do it myself I wouldn’t believe it either. A large pot of yellow onion skins, when boiled for 30 minutes in 9 cups of water and 3/4 c of white vinegar makes a red dye.

Start by saving the yellow onion skins as you cook during the fast.  Set a container on the counter and add a little at a time.  If you don’t have enough you can ask your produce guy at your local grocery store to help you out.

One half grocery bag of skins is more than enough for the average household.

Place onion skins into a large pot. Pour 9 cups of water and 3/4 cup of white vinegar over the skins and smoosh them down.  Invert a plate and weigh it all down with a glass cup.

Cook for 30 minutes.

Turn off heat. Strain the skins in a colander, saving the dye in a clean pot. It’s a good idea to strain them again with a mesh strainer to remove little bits that can stick to the eggs when cooking or you can use coffee filters in the colander.

You can make the dye the day before to save time.

Dying the eggs red

Before you boil the eggs, take them out of the refrigerator so they can come to room temperature. This will prevent them from cracking. Also, I understand medium eggs dye better than large eggs and there are some who insist on using brown eggs instead of white.  I used medium white eggs for this post.

Place the room temperature eggs into the dye and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook, simmering eggs for 15 minutes.

Some tips on online chat groups include leaving the eggs in the dye for 30 minutes before heating the water or leaving the eggs in the dye over night after they are cooked.

 

 

Hot out of the pot they might look brown but as they cool they turn a deep blood red.

When they are just cool enough to touch, dip a rag into a small bowl of olive oil, and coat the eggs for a gloss.  Multiple applications of oil may be necessary.

Things to consider:  Use glass or stainless steel and be careful of staining your clothing.  And we encourage you to light a scented candle.  When you are working with onions, vinegar and boiled eggs, it can get a bit stinky.

http://shop.vscardbox.com/Assorted-Orthodox-COMBO.htm
http://shop.vscardbox.com/Assorted-Orthodox-COMBO.htm
Box of 10, 4.25″ x 5.5″ greeting cards, 100lb matte finish, color – blank inside. Packaged in a clear plastic box.

 

Lenten Chocolate Cake

Today the Sunday School sponsored Coffee Hour and so I brought my Famous Chocolate Cake. Well, famous here at my address. It’s so easy and moist that you will want to make it every chance you get. It calls for vinegar and baking soda to substitute the egg and believe me, you don’t taste the vinegar. If you are still worried, you could add some Lenten chocolate chips, crumbled Oreos or walnuts. (I just thought of adding crumbled Oreos and will definitely try it the next time I make this cake. I wonder what it will taste like.)

To start, you need to preheat your oven to 350 and grease and flour a 9 x 13 baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine 3 c flour, 2 t baking soda, 6 T cocoa, 1 t salt, 2 c sugar. I stirred it with a whisk to evenly balance the dry ingredients.

Then add 3 T vinegar, 2 t vanilla, 3/4 vegetable oil, and 2 c cold water and beat well till blended. I was just fine mixing it with the whisk. No need to get another thing dirty.

 

Pour it into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, until you can insert a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.

I let it cool on the stove top, sifted powdered sugar on top and served it from the pan.

It is so moist and yummy! It doesn’t need icing.

 

 

Lenten Banana Bread Always Pleases

There are many opportunities to show hospitality during the Lent and it’s always nice to have something vegan to offer.  Here’s a recipe that always pleases.  It comes from Adventures of an Orthodox Mom.  She calls it Curious George Bread. We call it Delicious!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients (and then set aside)

· 1 3/4 c. flour
· 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
· 1/2 tsp. baking soda
· 3/4 tsp. salt

Beat together
· 3/4 c. oil or tahini for non-oil days (I use coconut oil)
· 3/4 c. sugar
· 1/4 c. cold water

Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture. The mixture will be thick but don’t worry. The bananas will add plenty of moisture.  (I made a double recipe so we could have cupcakes and froze them for a ready snack.)

Mash 3-4 bananas and incorporate into mixture

Add Enjoy Life Semi-sweet Chocolate Mini Chips

Pour into a greased loaf pans and bake for 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. I like to add chopped walnuts inside and then put larger pieces on top so we can remember which ones have nuts and which don’t. 

Or pour into lined cup cake trays and bake for 15 minutes.

If I need a quick cake, I pour the batter into a greased and floured glass cake pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Once in a while, I add orange zest instead of chocolate chips for a fresher taste. 

I dust the top with cinnamon or powdered sugar for an added treat, but they are sweet enough that a topping really isn’t needed.

For more Chocolate substitutes, visit: https://www.godairyfree.org/dairy-substitutes/how-to-substitute-chocolate

 

 

Is Lent over yet?

Is Lent over yet?

This is the cry running through my head midway through the second day of Holy and Great Lent.

The second day!

What was happening?!

I love Lent! I love the yearly opportunity to regroup. I love the prayer services. I love the chance to focus on a healthier diet. I love the challenge of quieting down the world and working on the stillness for the sake of my soul.

But this year I am not prepared. My refrigerator is still harboring contraband. My pantry isn’t stocked with enough vegan ingredients to prepare anything more interesting than pasta or rice. And my house is a complete mess. This is not the way I wanted to start Lent.

And then I made the rookie mistake and went on Facebook first thing in the morning! I KNOW! What was I thinking?

Facebook can be a place of encouragement during the fast with recipes and inspiring quotes from the Bible and Elders… but not yesterday. Yesterday every comment was (or seemed to be) an attack on my senses. Unwanted advice, boasts of “holier than thou” comments, delicious vegan meals, and amateur debates on what the Fast really was had me in a tizzy. I must have replied to a snarky comment 20 times before I actually clicked send. And that’s when I realized it was me. I was a the mess.

Was it the detox from removing meat just a week ago? Was it my gluttony searching for a pathetic excuse to eat an egg? Was it my ego needing to be the only online expert? Probably more the last than any of the others.

I do like being a know it all. It’s comforting to think I have it all together.

But I don’t know it all. It’s not realistic. Imagine if the world depended on what I knew. YIKES!

I am, or I should say, I want to be a learner, a grower, a teacher, a friend. I want to be a faithful servant. I want to be a better parent. I want to be a better Christian. I want to use this time to face my challenges and my fears. I want to use this time to remember what I once knew and learn from those who forget less often. I want to show my soul that I value her and therefore want to nurture her so that she may thrive as well.

I am so thankful that Lent isn’t over yet. I have a lot of things I want to accomplish in the next 40 plus days left. It really is such a short time for this little boot camp of ours.  Our sacred time outside of time.

So, I kindly and lovingly remind myself. “Suck in that gut, soldier, and stop your crying.  You’ve got work to do.”

May God grant us a season for reflection, growth and tears- but may they be tears of repentance and not self pity.

Prayer of St. Ephraim

This card is available in our Shop.

 

Training Photo By: Sgt. Benjamin E. Woodle

In Honor of Forgiveness

Psalm 130

From the depths, I have cried out to you, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplication.
If you, Lord, were to mark iniquities,
who, O Lord, shall stand?
For with you is forgiveness;
and because of your law, I stood by you, Lord.
My soul has stood by his word.
My soul has hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch, even until night,
let Israel hope in the Lord.
For with the Lord there is mercy,
and with him is plenteous redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.

Have you ever stayed up, waiting for the sun to fill the earth with light as it rises?  There’s a sense of excitement.  Hope.  Newness.
Forgiveness is like that sweet joy you feel when you see the light fill the sky and you know there is a new day waiting for you.
Forgive.  Ask for forgiveness.
Don’t sit in the dark any longer than you have to.

Today’s JAR

Once in a while a like to post a JAR   It’s “Just a Reminder” of something you probably already knew and forgot.  It’s rarely anything brilliant.  And it’s usually something your Orthodox Grandmother would have told you (if you had one.)

Today’s JAR

February 19 doesn’t start a 40 Day Diet. It starts the Lenten Season. Part of it means we follow the discipline of the Church in choosing what we eat. The other part is we use the time for self reflection, prayer, and repentance.

Many people say “What comes out is more important.”

There is no “More Important.” If you can’t control what goes in, how will you control what comes out…. We shouldn’t be Pharisees but we still need to follow the discipline of the fast to the best of our ability.

 

Remembering the Dead

Why does the Church like to remind us twice a year that we are all going to die?  It’s such a downer.

(Where’s the sarcasm font?)

In reality, I think it’s very important to be reminded that we are all going to die one day and that this life was meant to be temporary.  It helps us remember to stop sweating the small stuff, look at the big picture, forgive and repent.

For the procrastinator in all of us, the Church Calendar has two Saturdays named “Saturday of Souls” where we remember the dead: the Saturday before Meatfare Sunday and the Saturday before Pentecost… the beginning and end of the movable festal calendar.  The other Saturday of Souls services in the beginning of Lent are associated with the ascetics who didn’t have descendants to remember them in prayer and  St. Theodore concerning the Miracle of the Koliva*.

On these memorial Saturdays we offer boiled wheat, a.k.a. Koliva, and ask the priest and those present to pray for our departed family members and loved ones.  I have a friend who pays extra attention to pray for his loved ones and friends who didn’t have children (like the ascetics) and who will probably be forgotten through the generations to come.  As it is, each of us depending on the if we taught our children this sacred tradition or if our names are on a building or invention of some sort, will probably only be remembered for a short time after our death (in comparison to eternity.)

Holy and Great Lent is less than two weeks away and today we are preparing the ingredients for the first Saturday of Souls, February 10, 2018.  Do you prepare Koliva?   Do you offer a list of names of the dead?   How far back do you go?

I highly encourage you to learn how to make koliva.  If you need instructions or a recipe, you can go to an early post for koliva, or if you are a more visual learner, here’s a video.

May their memory be eternal.

Prayer Inside reads:
With the Saints give rest, O Christ,
to the soul of Your servant
where there is no pain,
nor any sorrow, nor any sighing,
…but Life everlasting.
From Orthodox Funeral Service
Item #: 10-002
  • In 361, Julian the Apostate was doing his utmost to restore pagan customs. Knowing that the Christians were accustomed to sanctify the first week of Lent by fasting and prayer, the wily tyrant told the Prefect of Constantinople to have all of the food set out for sale in the markets sprinkled with the blood of animals sacrificed to the gods, so that no one in the city would escape the contagion of idolatry. However, the Lord did not abandon His chosen people, but sent His servant Theodore to outwit the tyrant. Appearing in a vision to Patriarch Eudoxius (360-364), the holy Martyr informed him of what was happening and told him to instruct the Christians not to buy food from the markets but instead to eat kolyva made from grains of boiled wheat. Thus, thanks to the intervention of the holy Martyr Theodore, the Christian people were preserved from the stain of idolatry. The Church has commemorated this miracle ever since on the first Saturday of Great Lent, in order to remind the faithful that fasting and temperance have the power to cleanse all the stains of sin.

 

Where did the time go?

Wow!   Here I am, two weeks of December has passed and I can see how much I’ve neglected by blog.   This isn’t good.   It’s not like I don’t have anything to say or even anything to share.  I just lost track.  Does that happen to you?

So, here goes.  I am going to, stumbling if necessary, blog again.   I can’t promise anything fantastic, but I will work on the discipline of writing and hope to entertain you along the way.  There’s been a theme to discipline in my life lately.  Some things just require discipline and not dumb luck.   I’ve been satisfied with dumb luck and it’s not going to cut it anymore.

What will I be writing about?

I am leading a Women’s Book Club on the short instructional book, How to Live a Holy Life.  It’s a fantastic book.   We are taking our sweet time with it, maybe covering a page a session.  But we are all learning about ourselves and our relationship with God and each other.  To put it plainly, God appreciates our gratitude and acceptance of His will over our own. It sounds simple, but it isn’t always easy.

I am also preparing for a retreat in Norfolk, VA in February.  I’m going to extend a retreat I’ve already presented on sanctifying time.  Look for posts and updates as I finalize my preparations.

Oh, and add Christmas, the New Year, and for those in my area… Epiphany!

Yup.  My plate is full.

Looking forward to writing again.  Come back soon.