Monday, November 29, 2010

Multitude Monday: After Thanksgiving

holy experience

Boy, it has been nearly two months since I worked on (among other things) my list:

51. health and recovery from yucky illnesses!

52. my parents

53. my siblings (good times this weekend--this blog had better mention siblings from time to time, eh?)

54. baby's first bite of food

55. old and new friends at my parents' church

56. baby grins

57. my cute, creative daughters (when they are being cute and creative instead of whiny and annoying!)

58. my wonderful marriage and husband (sounds cliche, but I swear it's true)

59. the bond between my five-year-old girl and my baby boy (because she can be so sweet at times instead of obstinate)

60. the way the prayers of the Church seem to express whatever it is I am feeling better than I can (especially when life seems a little blah)

Have a lovely week, everyone!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Matushka Anna inspired and reminded me that I had wanted to create some kind of centerpiece for Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' house.

She used things she had around the house, so I figured I could do something similar.  My parents have baskets and bowls of pine cones in every room.  It's their thing.

Are these called hurricanes?  Notice they don't match at the bottom.

 After locating two hurricanes, I found two raspberry-colored candles in a drawer.

A freezing brisk walk around the house produced some rose hips (the berries, I think) and some interesting purple green leaves.  My Mom had a stash of the smaller pine cones.

A few minutes and some twine produced this!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Deep Breath

Sitting.  Sitting is good.

This is the point before a holiday/vacation/deadline where I have a choice.  I must choose between going insane and being realistic.

Do I try to do-all-the-laundry-deep-clean-the-bedrooms-perfectly-organize-the-living-areas-stow-all-the-odd-bins-in-the-basement-make-a-pie-I've-never-made-before-mop-the-kitchen-floor-pick-cute-outfits-for-various-services-this-weekend all before Liturgy tonight?

Sounds real good when it's typed out like that, doesn't it?

What are my goals for the day?  The pie needs to be made.  The outfits need to be picked.  The house needs to be orderly enough to not cause my family stress.  And I'd like to have energy leftover to enjoy being at Liturgy tonight.

Really, that is all.

Running around at top speed trying to make up for a week plus of resting from being sick is not the way to that last goal, the one where I begin a secular holiday that is actually devoted to giving thanks with a service of thanksgiving, with Eucharist.

Here's to balance.  Here's to reality.  Here's to some darn good food tomorrow.  Cheers!

Pumpkin Pecan Scones with Orange Icing

I still have a Pumpkin Chiffon Pie to bake, bags to pack, a house to tidy, laundry to fold, and clothes to put on (maybe I should do that one first), but what the heck, I'll share this recipe now instead of later.  Maybe it would work for your Thanksgiving breakfast tomorrow morning?

Pumpkin Pecan Scones with Orange Icing

2 cups white flour (or you could throw in a little whole wheat if you're compulsive about that like I am sometimes, but I actually prefer all white here)
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon*
1/2 tsp ground ginger*
1/8 tsp nutmeg*
1/8 tsp cloves*
(*Or substitute equivalent amount of pumpkin pie spice or whatever spice combination you like for pumpkin things.... Side note, I'm realizing as I type this that I completely forgot to include these in my double batch of scones yesterday.  Sigh.  Maybe I can garnish the frosted scones with a sprinkle of cinnamon?)

7 TBSP cold butter or margarine, in pieces if using stick butter/margarine

3/4 cup pecans, chopped (but not minced, we want chunks here)

1 TBSP lemon juice or white vinegar
1/4 cup rice milk (or whatever non-milk you use)
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Orange Icing
1 cup powdered sugar
1 TBSP pumpkin
1 1/2 tsp milk substitute
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp orange extract

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Grease a baking sheet with margarine.

Mix the dry ingredient (flour through spices) in a large bowl.  Mix completely.  Add margarine, wash your hands, then mix the margarine into the flour mixture by picking up flour and margarine together and rubbing between your fingers until it all resembles "course crumbs."  Stir in pecans.

In another bowl (or a pyrex measuring cup), mix thoroughly lemon juice, milk, pumpkin, and vanilla.  Add this to flour and margarine mixture.  Mix completely until flour mixture is completely moistened.  

This recipe always ends up looking like batter until I add a lot more flour.  Start with 1/4 cup or so (I want to say I may add up to as much as an entire cup more, but don't start with that) and keep adding until the batter is more of a dough and is something you can kneed a few times (less than 10).

Once the dough is dry enough (but not too dry), dump it out on the counter, kneed a few times, adding flour as necessary to keep it handle-able.  Pat and press the dough into a 7- to 8-inch circle.  Use a long, sharp knife to cut into 8 wedges.  Use a thin spatula to transfer wedges to rows on a baking sheet.  Keep an inch or two apart.  (Mainly, don't put it back on the sheet in a circle or they will all bake together and won't look as pretty.)

Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes.  Remove when edges are golden brown and tops look done.  (You can stick a knife or a toothpick in and see if it comes out "clean"—as in not covered in wet batter—if you are unsure.)  Let cool on a wire rack.

To prepare the icing, measure sugar into a bowl (or pyrex measuring cup).  Add pumpkin, milk, vanilla, and orange extract.  It won't seem like enough liquid, but if you add more, the icing will run off and be more of a glaze.  Mix thoroughly.  Wait to frost the scones until they are pretty cool.  Otherwise, icing will melt.  Don't worry about getting the icing perfect—it will smooth out as it drys.

I know this recipe looks ridiculously complicated and long, but it really comes together fast.  If you've made biscuits from scratch, you can do this.  ;)

I began with this recipe for Mocha Chip Scones and completely adulterated changed it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mary Dolls and Coming Series

Blessed Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos in the Temple!  (That's a mouthful!)

I have a friend who lives in a very small Orthodox community in a small town.  If memory serves, they can only afford to have a priest out for Liturgy once a month.  The other Sundays, she takes her children to Sunday School at a nearby protestant church.  We were catching up over Facebook and through the course of our emails, she asked if I have any particularly spectacular resources for creating an Orthodox home with small children in mind.  I've been wanting to do a post on that, but I think instead it will turn it into a series.  This won't quite be the first post because I'd like to organize it a bit better and suggest several resources for similar aspects of an Orthodox home.  This is mainly me gushing about a new favorite resource.

We learned about Sunday's feast last week with the help of Orthodox Christian Craft Supply.  I knew it would be a hit in our household because for any story my children hear, they instantly want to have dolls to act it out.  And they really do get excited about and love Mary.  Veneration for the Mother of God is hardly something I have to teach: it comes naturally to my children.

It's interesting for me to discover their love for the Theotokos and how they identify with her.  I was raised in churches that gave me the idea that devotion to Mary was "a Catholic thing" and probably wrong.  It could be because they are girls that they identify with the Theotokos—that is certainly the case with a feast like the Entrance.  Or possibly, they identify with the child Christ in Mary's arms, and their love of Mary comes from their love for me.  They are very connected to their own mother, and the Mother of Christ naturally attracts their devotion.  (If that doesn't instill the fear of God into a mother, I don't know what will!)

Incidentally, one of the first icons my children have really identified with is the icon I've had as my blog title banner for a long while.  Have you noticed that it's an icon of Mary nursing Christ?  When my kids (who have all been extended nursers) see that Jesus is having milk(!), their faces just light up.  Jesus has milk just like me!  I can't think of a more intimate and meaningful way to begin to communicate the mystery of the incarnation to a small child.

Back to dolls.  Let me heartily recommend the Feast Day Boxes at Orthodox Christian Craft Supply.  The only thing I had to supply for the project was a couple of kinds of glue.  I did most of the "crafting" because I wanted them to make something lovely and their little hands weren't ready for some of the detail work.  However, they helped paint pieces and assisted in gluing on jewels and ribbon.  Older children could probably handle most parts of the crafts themselves.

I'm adding a button on the side of my blog for this wonderful resource.  The boxes are inexpensive and nicely organized.  When completed, children have a box that teaches many lessons of the particular feast but that is also, essentially, a box of toys!  My kids love to take out the box, put Mary in a princess castle, pull her around in their princess carriages, and generally make her an intimate part of their imaginative worlds.  With all the secular toys, secular images, and secular music that my children encounter, any way to insert Christ and the Church into their world on a more regular basis gets my approval!

***Addendum to the post: the Feast Day boxes also come with a teaching guide.  Before doing each little craft, I read the accompanying short story from the simply worded guide to give the kids an idea of why each item was in the box.***

Monday, November 22, 2010


I don't know what it is.  A week of being home recovering from being sick last weekend?  Feeling behind on holiday (both) planning?  A gray sky that has looked like twilight all day?  (I do enjoy the occasional thunder and lightening.  But the blah-gray in between?) 


So, I'm dressed now.  I'm cleaning up my kitchen to the tune of my Pandora radio station for days like this.  I'm about to make two batches of Blueberry Scones and two batches of Pumpkin Pecan Scones with Orange Icing for Thanksgiving morning breakfast at my parents' house.  (Amazingly, both are fasting recipes!)

Please, Baby Boy, stay asleep long enough for me to finish this!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Faithful Saying

We Orthodox pray this prayer of St. John Chrysostom just before each time we receive communion:
I believe, O Lord, and I confess that thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who didst come into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. And I believe that this is truly thine own immaculate Body, and that this is truly thine own precious Blood. Wherefore I pray thee, have mercy upon me and forgive my transgressions both voluntary and involuntary, of word and of deed, of knowledge and of ignorance; and make me worthy to partake without condemnation of thine immaculate Mysteries, unto remission of my sins and unto life everlasting. Amen. Of thy Mystic Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant; for I will not speak of thy Mystery to thine enemies, neither will I give thee a kiss as did Judas; but like the thief will I confess thee: Remember me, O Lord, in thy Kingdom. Not unto judgment nor unto condemnation be my partaking of thy Holy Mysteries, O Lord, but unto the healing of soul and body. 
I've had that bolded phrase in my head for a few weeks now. 

It's from the 1 Timothy:
15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (KJV)
St. Paul just zeros in at the end there, doesn't he?  All of a sudden, he's not talking in generalities.  In his mind and before God, he is the chief of sinners.


Yes.  But the Church grabs those words and gives them to me to say every time I receive communion.  Every time.  Doesn't matter what's going on in the world.  Online.  Next door.  Upstairs.  Doesn't matter.

When I come before God to receive the gift of His Son's body and blood, mine is to examine my own sins. While not bringing myself to complete discouragement over my flaws, I should simply be concerned with my own salvation.

I cannot claim this to be my first reaction to division or disappointment, not remotely.  In fact, more often than not, I reach that line and I simply fail to comprehend it.  But through its presence at every liturgy, Christ in his mercy allows this phrase—this prayer—to penetrate my mind and heart.

Eventually, I remember.  And though I don't understand, I pray it as the Church directs.  I rest in her judgment.

Two verses after that verse in 1 Timothy, I find this:
17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (KJV)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Love at First Post

Or something like that. 

I added a blog to the list on my sidebar: Fire In Mine Ears.

The post that hooked me?

Liberal Arts: Who Needs 'Em?

Peperonata Hummus Panini

Is there any English in that title?

In honor of the beginning of the Advent Fast, a yummy fasting sandwich recipe.  This is an oil recipe, in case you avoid that type of thing at some point during fasts.

You'll need...
  • margarine
  • good, possibly savory, bread
  • hummus
  • Peperonata Sauce (I imagine you can buy something like this somewhere? And I left out the pine nuts... my brother had a bad one and now I'm scared of them.)

Here's what to do:  heat a grill pan (lovely grill lines),  griddle, or skillet to medium-high heat.  Margarine (is that a verb?) the outsides of two slices of good bread as for grilled cheese.  Put both slices on the pan to heat.  Press down with a spatula (or if you have one of those panini contraptions, use that) to flatten the bread slightly and get the grill lines into the bread.  Slather on some hummus on both pieces of bread as they are grilling.  Warm the peperonata sauce and top the bread with two to four tablespoons of sauce depending on the size of your bread.  Carefully place the piece sans sauce on top of the sauce piece.  Remove to plate and enjoy!

I used roasted garlic bread (with whole garlic cloves actually in the bread), greek olive hummus, and a homemade peperonata sauce that I had leftovers of.  I assume one can find something like it in stores.  If not, roasted red or yellow peppers, sprinkled with (chopped?) capers and kalamata olives, and drizzled with olive oil and red wine vinegar (leave out any of those ingredients that you don't like or sound like too much work) would arrive at something fairly similar.

This is for people who like a lot of flavor, especially the way I originally made it.  For those of you dealing with or recovering from the stomach flu, steer clear.  (That would include me for the moment!)

I would have lovely pictures to accompany this post, but "life" ate my camera.  Any forthcoming photos on this blog for some time will be from my hand-me-down iPhone/Pod.

All Right

Apparently, that is what I say when I am getting ready to do something.  (Maggie made this clear to me at the age of two when she would toddle up to the front door in my shoes, holding a purse, repeat "all right" several times, and expect to get to go somewhere.)

We've had a lot of "life" happening around here lately: vacations, church functions, homeschooling (some anyway), illness, laundry, general chaos of raising three children who are five and under.  I'm still here, and I am taking some time today, amidst a half-cleaned kitchen, etc., to write some posts.  Because it makes me happy.  And a happy Mommy and wife is much more fun than a grumpy one.

Go do something that makes you happy.  :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Eastern Christian New Media Awards

First, nominations are in.  Second, voting is set up!

And finally, I'm going to second Mat. Anna's incredulity, but certainly not about her blog being nominated.

Someone actually nominated my blog too!  Crazy!

Anyway, go over to the Eastern Christian New Media Awards blog and vote!

And more importantly, go visit some of the truly wonderful blogs that have been nominated.  I know there are several that I've just been introduced to there, and I'm sure I'll find some new favorites and some new friends.
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