Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thursday Prayer Request

Please pray for my small friend Alex, who is 10 years old and is having heart surgery Thursday in Boston.

Lord, may you grant her a speedy and full recovery and give peace to Alex's parents.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Memorial Wheat

I noticed that Katherine at Evlogia is making Memorial Wheat for Tuesday. Remembering our loved ones on this particular date is a tradition that I didn't know about, but this is a very special way to remember. I hope to make some for our beloved Anna for her 40th day.

Memorial Wheat recipe from the archives...

2 cups of wheat berries (the "soft" ones cook faster; can usually find these from health food store)
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1 c. white raisins
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin

1 cup finely ground zweiback toasts (optional)
1 cup powdered sugar
dragees or more nuts/ raisens for decoration

Day 1. Cover and soak berries overnight.

Day 2. Drain & rinse. Cover with water in large pot and bring to boil. REduce heat and simmer uncovered 1-3 hours, until puffy and tender (keep covered with water and stir occasionally).

Drain in a colander; rinse and drain again. Spread the wheat our on a smooth dish towel to dry overnight.

Day 3. Light a candle and pray. Mix all ingredients. Put combined mixture on a tray that has been covered with wax paper.

Heap in a mound toward center and press to make smooth.

To top it: Either just sift on 1 cup of powdered sugar, or first sprinkly with 1 cup of finely ground zweiback toast and then with sugar. (the zweiback keep the sugar from absorbing and disappearing into the wheat).

Make a cross in the center with koufeta, dragees, nuts, raisens, whatever.

May Their Memory Be Eternal!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Gifts from God - Bright Week

* 2 year old shouting "Chwist Risen!"

* On Bright Monday, rose petals and bay leaves adorning the floor of our church nave, evidence of a glorious feast.

* favorite Bright Week treats, like Chicken-n-Dumplings, Cheese Enchiladas, and Breakfast Sausage.

* after finally committing to homeschooling next year, finding great ideas from Katherine.

* another mom and I, dumping a huge bag on the kitchen floor of new-to-us shoes from a friend at church, then trying them on like little kids trying out new toys.

* swiss chard, radishes, cabbages, carrots, peas, and Mary's Gold growing in the garden.

* Little Builder curled up in my lap on the couch as we listen to the morning matins psalms.

* The hymn, The Angel Cried rejoicing through the car.

I took this lovely photo from Mary's facebook album - thanks!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Prayer for Orthodox Mothers During Holy Week

Lord, help me remember that there is sanctification in attending carefully to church serices, but also in the hearding of children during church services.

Help me offer the gift of training my children up in church with humility and joy.

Lord, have mercy on us!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pascha and Birth Visualization

I wonder if I will always associate Pascha with birth, or if those memories will fade as new ones form. It has been 2 years since my daughter's birth, but still I have vivid memories of praying, pouring my heart out, for a safe delivery every time the priest chanted the request to God during a Holy Week litany:

O Thou the Mighty Provider, Healer and Physician of souls and bodies...have mercy on Thy people and save them from all calamities, tribulations, and misfortunes, O Thou the upholder of those who trust in Thee. We ask Thee, O Lord, hearken and have mercy on us.

After a very difficult first labor, delivery, and recovery; I was begging God to help me through the second one. Glory be to God, He made it beautiful. With St. Elizabeth the New Martyr as my own private nurse, God gave me peace and strength, even in scary moments, and he delivered our little Ella from calamity.

from the archives...
I've been watching the lilies bloom and they remind me of preparing for my daughter's birth 2 years ago. She was due on Pascha, and during Holy Week I spent many minutes during services watching the lilies opening on the Epitaphios. I had read that this was good to practice and use during labor, to envision your cervix opening. Well, it worked for me, so I'm sharing some lilies with you, in case anyone is preggers out there--or plans to be.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pascha Baskets

What goes into a Pascha basket? Nichola T. Kraus has written an informative article about what goes in their baskets, and what each thing symbolizes.

This explanation from "Children of the Church" posted by St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Texas reminds us that, "...each of the foods in the Pascha basket have rich meaning, as does everything in Orthodoxy. Glory to God!"

If you would like to print something with pictures to use in teaching your children, you might like this version of "Preparing a Pascha Basket." or this one that the kids might color.

A new tip: put the salt in a little container in which you will place a candle. The salt acts like sand in holding it in place. Being practical, and knowing I wasn't going to be sprinkling my salt on anything, I haven't included it in the past, but with a job to do, salt will probably make it into the basket this year.

I still remember the year we went to Burger King on the way to Church Saturday night. Two bacon-double cheese burgers nested in our basket until 2:30 am. They did not taste wonderful and we've never attempted that again!

With gratitude, I share our Pascha Basket Cover.

Four years ago our sponsors commissioned a dear sister at Holy Apostles to make this basket cover for us as a Pascha gift.

The oil is represents the Holy Spirit and reminds us of our Chrismation.

The grapes on the cross and the wheat to the right are for the Body and Blood of Christ, as shown in the Bread and Wine of the Eucharist.

Every Pashca (Easter) we fill our basket with wonderful things, cover it with our beautiful cover, and bring it to church.

We hang it up near our Prayer Corner for the weeks after Pascha.

Christ is Risen, and he has bestowed on us

the gift of


Thursday, April 9, 2009


from the archives...

Russian Pascha Bread

Symbolic of Christ, who is our True Bread

Don't have pics from last year, but this one is from Mt. Holyoke's website:

Here's one from Russians in Australia:

And a shorter, fatter variation from Finnish Cloudberry Quark resting next to a beautiful Cheese Paska.

I made this recipe our first Pascha - we had officially been chrismated into the Orthodox Church for a few hours, that Holy Saturday afternoon when I took to the kitchen.

We didn't think we'd like candied peel, so we replaced it with dried cherries when we changed up a recipe from Cakes & Cake Decorating.

I've used new clay flower pots, coffee tins, and even a 2-cup and 4-cup glass mixing cup before. Whatever you use - grease it well and line the bottoms with waxed paper and flour the sides. If you want a really tall dome, folllow the directions on the My House and Garden recipe.


1 TBS yeast
6 TBS tepid milk
6 TBS sugar (divided into 2TBS and 4 TBS)
4&1/2 cup all-purpose flour (divided into 1/2 cup and 4 cup)
pinch of saffron strands
2 TBS dark rum
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cumin
4 TBS butter
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup or so of dried cherries
1/2 to 1 cup of slivered almonds

1: Blend & Sit
bowl one - yeast, milk, 2 TBS sugar, and 1/2 cup flour.
bowl two - saffron and rum
Let sit about 15 minutes.

2: Bread Dough
Sift remaining flour into a bowl and rub in butter and remaining sugar. Make a well and work in yeast mixture, saffron mixture, and everything else to make dough.

3: Knead & Rise
Knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes, until smooth. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 1&1/2 hours or until doubled.

4: Ready, Set, Bake
Preheat oven to 375 F. Knock back the dough, divide it (this recipe makes one 4c. glass measuring cup and 1 small coffee tin) and form into round lumps. Press the lump into the bottom of the pot, cover and rise for another 1/2 hour. Bake for 35-50minutes, depending on your pot. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

5: Decorate
Mix 3/4 cup powdered sugar with 2 tsp warm water and 1 tsp amlmod extract until smooth. Pour over the dome so that the glaze drips down the sides a little. Decorate with nuts & cherries, leaving room for a candle in the middle.

At our Russian parish, everyone had one of these and lit the candles and Father blessed them all along with the Pascha baskets. At other parishes, we've been the only ones with Kulich, but usually everyone enjoys it.

Kulich is the very best sliced and spread with Cheese Paska. My version of Cheese Paska coming soon...

For Pascha bread recipes from different cultures, visit here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Memory Eternal

words from our priest, better than mine:

Our beloved sister in Christ, whose baptismal name is Anna, has fallen asleep in the Lord. Please join me in praying for the newly-departed servant of God, Anna, saying "Lord Jesus Christ, grant rest to the soul of thy servant." You can pray this prayer on your prayer rope, just like the Jesus Prayer.

"Brethren, we would not have you ignorant concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by the Word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord will himself descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with him in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words." - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (Epistle reading at the funeral service)