Sunday, February 28, 2010


I know I promised recipes, I had no idea how hard that promise was going to be to keep (guess I need to remind myself of that sidebar BWO!:) The following are recipes that we use on a regular basis, and are scheduled within my Lenten menu. I have not included every recipe, such as a recipe for lentils and rice. Some are my own, some are from fellow bloggers and other resources. I have tried to give credit to each. As to the organization, I have a 3 ring fasting binder. The first page of that binder contains my menu, followed by a set of tabs labelled with the days of the week. I file the recipes for each day behind the appropriate tab, and store extra recipes in the back. When the season changes, the recipes will go back into my Triodion binder for the next year. So, here are the recipes, please let me know if you find any typos, or you know the source for a recipe I have failed to credit.

Most of these recipes are kid friendly, though a few are just for me for lunch some days :) And of course, there is always a lot of peanut butter and hummus served around here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Great Book for Lent

I am sorry it has taken me this long to discover these books! The Very First Christmas has been one of our favorite readings during Advent for years, it never occured to me there were more like it. Then, a few weeks ago I was browsing Amazon and there they were; a whole series of beautifully illustrated books, covering creation, the flood of Noah, even the story of Pentecost. The author does an excellent job of giving historically accurate information, weaving the Biblical story through the context of a young boy who is tired of fairy tales and wants his parents to only tell him stories about things that really happened. Scripture is used to tell much of the story, and while I have not read them all, the ones I have looked at seem to be compatible with Orthodox theology. If you are looking for another good book to read this Lent, or to tuck into that Lenten survival bag, this would be a great addition!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Meal Prayers

Here are some downloadable pages which work well for prayer at meal times. I printed the midday and evening ones back to back, then cut them in half and laminated them. The Morning prayers require front and back, so you end up with 2 cards for the three sets of prayers. I made enough copies for each family member, so the kids can join in. The wording was taken directly from the Great Horologion, adjusting for home use. Be sure to let me know if you spot any typos!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Behold, I make all things new: a retrospective on clean week

Saturday, a remembrance of those dead, returned to the dust of the earth, a reminder to each of us that we must all face death and final judgement.

We stand in the bitter cold,
as incense drifts across the cemetery
sweet fragrance offered to God,
our prayers a gentle, cool breeze
blown through hades,
comforting for a brief moment those who have turned their backs on Him in this world.

Later that day, joy, white, all is light as a precious child is baptized into faith. Immersed in water, made new, washed of all corruption and clothed in righteousness.

"For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."

A last gluttonous enjoyment, the body made heavy.

"Let us all make haste to humble the flesh by abstinence, as we set out upon the God-given course of the holy Fast; and with prayers and tears let us seek our Lord and Saviour. Laying aside all memories of evil, let us cry aloud; We have sinned against Thee, Christ our King; save us"

The church, dark once again, heads bowed.
Changing the cloths,
the constant visual reminder of what season we are in. Bright, beautiful blue, the color of our Mother, traded out for the deep purple stain of Lent, the stain of our sins.

White snow falls in the dark night. Have mercy on me a sinner. Asking forgiveness, from loved ones, and ones I have only just met. Those I have hurt, those who have hurt me. Cleansing my heart of the hurts, letting them go, not holding on.

"And now, having no further care for the sins which thou hast declared, depart in peace."

Cleaning the house, I scrub away dirt from the floors, wishing it were that easy to scrub out my heart. Each room receives a thorough inspection, a critical eye, searching out the unneeded, the clutter, the stuff; the stuff that accumulates, the impulse purchase, the toys, the outfit I just had to have. It is hard to let go. It is hard to give up things, they are "mine." Yet, they are not mine, nothing is mine. Now it all fills the back of the car, waiting to be taken away, shared with someone who needs it far more than I, letting it go, not holding on to things. Father arrives for the house blessing, spraying life giving water into every room, every corner, every dark and messy place, asking that it be blessed and put to proper use. We open each door, revealing the dirty and disorganized.

Going to confession, opening the heart to God and priest, revealing the dark, the dirty, the cluttered. Letting them go is hard, I want to hold on to my sins, I want to keep my selfish behaviours, I want to feel justified in my anger.

Lord have mercy on me.

Standing in church, listening, sometimes even hearing, the words of the Canon - Lord have mercy on me - as one friend put it, I am 'emotionally raw'.

"I have discoloured Thine image and broken Thy commandment. All my beauty is destroyed and my lamp is quenched by the passions, O Savior. But take pity on me, as David sings, and 'restore to me Thy joy'. "

The fast begins to wear on all. We are cranky. We are tired. I am overwhelmed. "The time of pruning has arrived." " I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing." I can do nothing. Receive me today, O Lord, as a communicant. The Eucharist is new life, new strength. Breaking bread together with friends, those who have been on the same journey this week. Those who have asked my forgiveness. Those who I humbly ask to forgive. And in joy we eat, as all is forgiven. The load lightens, as the clutter is taken away, the physical clutter has been dropped off, the emotional clutter begins to calm, the clutter of the heart forgiven and washed away.
It is a beginning.
Behold, I make all things new.
Revelations 21:5

Saturday, February 13, 2010

St. Emmelia Conference

I have been debating whether or not I could work it out, but I have decided I am going to head up to the Antiochian Village for the 2nd Annual St. Emmelia Orthodox Home School Conference. So, I am curious, anyone I "know" planning to be there :) Would love to hear from you if you are planning to attend!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lenten Menus

It is that time again, time to begin thinking about the fast of Great Lent. I am still working on getting recipes onto my computer, but I have come up with a basic menu to share for those who have requested it. I hope to post a selection of recipes by the end of the week. For now, here is a look at a shopping list for clean week. As I shared last year, a new tradition in our family (inspired by Erin), is to take the kids shopping for clean week foods. Last year we made an event of it, allowing them input on the items selected. Since the services of clean week are so demanding, it is especially helpful to simplify things during this week, so we select a variety of raw foods which require no preparation and can be quickly laid out and put away again. Also, here is a link to the summary on fasting from our women's retreat which contains numerous helpful links for recipes and more. Finally, for some really great advice on preparing meals during Lent, be sure to check out Mary's post, she said all of the things I have been thinking about as I struggled with posting a menu or not! Please remember, each family must make their own choices based on what is appropriate for them. Some could not deal with the repitition of such a menu. For me it is a matter of simplicity and sanity. It is not the only way, or the best way, just the way I have found works for me.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Welcome Home Uncle "J" !

May God protect all those still in harms way.

Monday, February 8, 2010

February Give-Away

If you have not already entered, be sure to go leave a comment with Mary. This month we are giving away a book on the life of St. Brendan the Navigator.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

heaven on earth

It is necessary to establish a pattern of going to church as often as possible, usually to Matins, Liturgy and Vespers. Have a longing for this, and go there at the first opportunity - at least once a day - and if you can, stay without leaving. Our church is heaven on earth. Hasten to church with the faith that it is a place where God dwells, where He Himself promised to quickly hear prayers. Standing in church, be as if you are standing before God in fear and reverence, which you express through patient standing, prostrations, and attention to the services without wandering thoughts, relaxation or crudeness.
St. Theophan the Recluse

Friday, February 5, 2010

Just in case there is anyone out there who cares :) I have updated my set of Orthodox phonics cards so all the letters are there. These do not correspond to the Letters of Grace plan, as I had already developed them before being asked to join that project. I had plans to create a full reader to go with them, and may still complete that project, but for now I am putting my efforts into the work on LOG. If I find the time when the first phase of LOG is complete, I will finish the reader and share it. For, now, here are the completed cards for those of you who downloaded an incomplete set. They are not nearly as nice as what we will soon be sharing, but are one more tool a parent might use in teaching their child. I could not find a "Qu" saint with an icon available (a nice part of LOG, having a talented young artist create custom paintings!) so I reused an icon of the Theotokos as Queen. I did not want to change the letter Mm card, as they were designed to be worked through in order beginning with M, and I really like the idea of starting with Mary. Also, a few of the saints have been changed due to personal preference :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Waldorf, Icons and the Incarnation

I have many times started a post about Waldorf education. I never quite seem to finish it to my satisfaction. I am going to attempt again, as I was inspired by the homily this morning. This past weekend was one full of beauty and joy. More than I can grasp, or attempt to communicate. Sunday morning service was such a calm experience, as only a small number were able to make it down the icy, winding roads to our church. The power was shorting out so there were no lights, and the chairs had been removed in anticipation of the crowds coming to venerate the icon. I felt very present in the service that morning. Then today, we celebrate the end a season. We prepared for Christ's birth many long weeks, celebrated it joyously, gloried in the beauty of Theophany, that moment of Christ's revelation of himself to the world, and now today the season ends with one more reminder of the Incarnation. Christ, as any other child, was presented forty days after birth to be brought into the temple. The beautiful hymn which is sung every evening at Vespers echos that day "Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which You has prepared before the face of all people ..." Blessed Simeon, whose life was extended because of his doubt in the virgin birth, had waited his whole life to see the Messiah. He held in his hands the child who was God. Because of that incarnation, because God became man, we are saved. The Incarnation is what allows us to use icons within the Orthodox Church. Because God became man, we can depict Christ in his physical form. The Incarnation teaches us that the physical is important. We are not called to despise the bodies God created for us, as they were made in His image. We are not called to reject the physical world, as each part of its beauty is a small bit of His divine love revealed to us. I think that is why Waldorf education often appeals to Orthodox homeschoolers. While the spiritual philosophy behind Waldorf is not acceptable to the church, the reverence for God's creation is very much a part of the Orthodox church. We constantly appeal to the whole person throughout the liturgy. We are whole humans, and each of our senses was given to us that we might glory in God's love revealed to us each day.

"...Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Phillipians 4:8

Monday, February 1, 2010

St. Brigid's Well

Here are a few of the beautiful photos my in-laws took at St. Brigid's Well in Ireland.

St. Brigid's Day

Here is a look at our festal display. The little princess made a St. Brigid from wax, I raided the Nativity Set for sheep, the flowers were the ones we purchased to toss at the arrival of the Kursk root icon and couldn't use because the venue moved to a hotel (hotels don't let you throw rose petals :) Of course, our favorite book on St. Brigid, and the vial contains water from St. Brigid's well, which my in-laws brought back from Ireland last year.
To celebrate St. Brigid's feast day, we invited a friend over for a proper tea party.

I tried my hand at Irish Soda Bread - still need to work on it :) It was okay, and the kids enjoyed it, but not great!
We made our own butter in a jar, and enjoyed lemon curd with homemade whipping cream, fruit salad, spice cake muffins and green tea.
Later we sat by the fire and made St. Brigid Crosses - pipe cleaners are the way to go if you are trying to teach kids!
A lovely feast day all around!