Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Sobering Time

The weeks of summer fly past.  Trips, training,  gardening, canning and cooking consume every moment.  There is a seeming lull in the liturgical year, as if all energy was expended throughout the marathon of Lent and the Apostles Fast, and we collapsed into exhausted celebration with the feasts of Ascension, Pentecost and the Apostles.  Life seems to pull at us - with fewer added services, life in our home takes on an agrarian rhythm.  Everything builds around the harvest, whether from our own garden, or the weekly CSA box, or the Farmer's Market, I spend much of my time considering what foods must be frozen, canned or cooked.  Enjoying parties with family and friends, breathing deeply the humid air, a feeling of indolence and joy at letting go of a few responsibilities.  I suppose that is the way the end of the year should feel - hot, heavy, with thoughts turning to the next plans...the liturgical gauntlet of September with its many services.  So it is good to have a sobering time.  A time to call ourselves back from the carefree days of July, to ease us back. 
 For that, the church offers the Dormition.  We end the church cycle as we begin it, with she who was permitted to hold God both within her and in her arms.  So many names......... she is the ladder of Jacob..... the burning bush of Moses....the cloud of glory which contained our Lord.  She is the ark, the tabernacle - holier than the Holies.  She gave birth to the light which illumines the world, and the stone cut from a mountain by no human hand.  She is the gate that shall ever remain shut - for the Lord, the God of Israel has entered by it.  She is the very temple veil she stitched, and the golden urn which carried the Manna.  She is the rod of Aaron, which sprouted the Flower of Immortality, and who gave birth to the Rod of Jesse.  She is the holy altar who bore the bread of life, the branch of the unwithering vine, and her prayers are the sweetest of incense to her Son.  As we enter the season of the dormition, may we remember the most holy Theotokos, and beseech her prayers on our behalf - for what better mouth to voice our needs to the ear of the Son of God............. than those of his Mother.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Busy Week

It's been a busy week around here - today was the 11th day of training for Catechesis this summer, with 3 more to go next week.  Wednesday means certification! 

Today was a materials making day - our intrepid group spent the morning building the walls of Jerusalem, using the above as our model, we set to work figuring out how to recreate it!

I am pretty sure when we signed on, none of us realized it was going to mean an education in woodworking!  Here are two catechists who are now quite proficient with a mitre saw.  Next up, learning how to use a scroll saw!

It's beginning to come together -  

And our amazing formation leaders spent the day painting puzzles pieces and Good Shepherd materials for us.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Garden (Over) Abundance

Still trying to claw my way through an abundance of cucumbers - so far 4 jars relish, 12 jars bread and butter pickles, 8 jars dill spears, and countless batches of refrigerator pickles.

And these are still taunting me from the sink!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Picture Perfect Saturday Morning: or blessings #206-214

yummy home baked goodies, Laura's little maple cakes, lemon corn muffins, fruit and salad....

.....freshly squeezed lemonade.....
......dancing on the front porch to Pa's fiddlin'  tunes .....

... an excursion to a 200 year old mill - where the cornmeal for those yummy muffins was ground....
....little girls in bonnets all in a row....

.... watching the fish.....
....dancing like no one is watching....

......a final turn on the tree swing ...
......and beautiful bouquets of flowers to take home with the memories - Thank you V!

Friday, July 8, 2011


 Mmmm, blackberries are in season - and I have the perfect use for them!
My long awaited Paletas cookbook arrived last month, and I found the perfect pop to make.
Boil 1 lemon peel, 1/2 c water and 1/2 c sugar until all sugar is dissolved.  Cool and strain.  Blend cooled syrup with 1 1/2 c plain Greek yogurt and 2 T honey or agave nectar (I prefer the agave).  Fill molds half way and freeze for 30 minutes.  Slice berries in half and drop into molds, using a stick to push them into the yogurt mixture.  Top with remaining mixture and freeze overnight. 


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Story and a Give-away

Let me share with you a story.  A story about a tea cup and a church.  A year or so ago, a small mission church was looking for a permanent home.  This mission has a special place in my heart because my husband and I were there when a small group of people started saying prayers together, hoping that God would help establish an Orthodox church in that area.  While we were not around to be a part of the fruition of this mission, they are always in my heart.  This mission got its name in a most un-orthodox manner.  After several months of meetings, several saints were put to the group along with a careful look at the lives of these men and women.  When no agreement could be made, my husband suggested that each of the names be scrawled on a piece of paper and placed in a hat.  A child was selected to reach in and draw a name.  From that drawing, St. Elizabeth the New Martyr was embraced.  It seemed so random.  And it certainly didn't follow protocol.  Fortunately, after His Grace Metropolitan Philip heard the Akathist to Elizabeth prayed, a blessing was given, and somehow this little group got to name their own church!  They found a commercial building and began to grow their little community.  Soon, a priest was found, one who had a deep heart for Russia, so it only seemed natural that he would serve at St. Elizabeth.   Quickly they outgrew their little space and began the search for a more permanent home.  A year ago a piece of property was considered.  About the same time another priest dear to my heart contacted the parish to say he had found an authentic tea cup belonging to St. Elizabeth through an antiques dealer and his church wished to gift it to the mission.  The tea cup which had travelled half way around the world now was driven across the state to be delivered to Fr. John, who at the time just happened to be standing on that little piece of property they wished to buy. 

The tea cup was handed over on that land.  Unfortunately the price of the land was too high, and the search continued.  A year passed, and the parish continued to grow.  Then a call came, from the property owners of that bit of land.  They had heard through mutual contacts that a church was interested in the property, and offered the land at half the original asking price.  The land was purchased, but it stands empty until the funds can be raised to build a temple.  The ladies of St. Elizabeth, many of whom were the original coordinators of the first Taste and See Cookbook, have now created a second cookbook with the goal of raising money to build that temple.  The cookbook is full of all new recipes and will make a great addition to any Orthodox home.  The cookbook includes a large number of gluten-free recipes, all clearly marked! 

To help support St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church in their journey to build a temple on this property blessed by St. Elizabeth herself, I am giving away one copy of the cookbook. Leave a comment to be entered to win, and then if you don't - go buy a copy!

Winner will be announced on July 10th 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Monday the Fourth Gifts

196. my grandfather, who served in England in World War II, where he met my grandmother
197. my father, who wanted to enlist during Vietnam, but was turned away for a bad knee
198. my father-in-law, who served in the Army
199. my brother-in-law, two tours in Iraq and still serving
200. a friend's son, who enlisted on 9/12, and now flies black hawk helicopters in Afghanistan
201. the countless mothers who have watched their children walk out the door, never to return
202. men and women willing to give their lives to keep me and my family safe
203. those who come back safe, and must live with the memories
204. the freedom to be an Orthodox Christian, when churches are burning in Egypt
205. the freedom and safety to openly pray and talk about Jesus, while others are still being martyred today