Monday, November 15, 2010

Nativity Fast Menu

First, these easy muffins (but omitting the cloves) are definitely going into rotation as an after-school snack.

Second, you can visit the Menu document here for ideas. I haven't been able to link all the meals to recipes, but many of these recipes are on this blog in the "Fasting" section.

Third, this one is for those of you not in the US, who can't get Jiffy cornmeal pancake mix. You can mix up your own batch! This a great for these yummy staples: Cornmeal pancakes: add 2/3c soy/rice milk and a bit of egg-replacer
Tamale Pie: saute onions, beans, green chiles for the pie filling, then top with Jiffy mixed with 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, and 1/2c of soy/rice milk.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gifts from God

* husband who cooked ginger pancakes with peaches for supper

* other teachers at school, wiser ones than me, who help me - collaboration

* students laughing with me and not at me - a good rapport - this is truly a Gift from God! (and from St. Raphael & St. Moses, whom I have been asking to pray for me regarding school)

* a Second Grade teacher who truly looks after my son

* open doors concerning job opportunities for my husband

* reading Iggy Peck Architect and Buffalo Wings with my kids on the couch tonight.

* Akathist prayers that offer comfort and put words to ideas that I knew I needed to pray but hadn't the exact phrases

* a comfortable bed to nest into at night

Monday, October 18, 2010

St. Peter the Aleut, Pray for Us!

My son's Sunday School class has chosen St. Peter the Aleut for their class patron.

Not only, as a teenage saint, is he a good example for young ones, but also as a martyr he reminds us of the importance of our Orthodox Faith, a Faith worth dying for.

I pray that I may live this Faith in my heart and in my actions.

St. Peter, pray for us!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Gifts from God

* Reading in bed with my children at night before bed.

* Boxes of photographs of my grandparents, the better to remember them before sickness and weakness came. Old school-teacher photos, dapper suits, newspaper articles, perfectly curled vintage hair, smiles around the table as we perused the past.

* 4 other English teachers giving me ideas of how to make reading and writing more doable for my sophomores.

* pre-written prayers that sometimes say an idea better than I could, and often say an idea I hadn't realized I needed to think.

That last part is the challenge for me during worship: with a clear mind!

Monday, September 6, 2010

St. Peter the Aleut

Do you have a special way of remembering this teenage saint?

I asked this question last year and got no reply.

Last year in Sunday school, we enjoyed whale-shaped crackers and dried berries in memory of this young Alaskan man. I think that as the month passes, the best I can do this year is ask St. Peter to intercede for my teenage students.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Holy Transfer

from Community... home

She who bore Life dies to be received to Life,

and Holy God transfers blessed festal flowers
down the interstate,
ferrying also Love and Life from Eucharistic Body
back to our Family Alter.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos - An August Fasting Menu

I am a high school teacher (Speech, English, Drama, and Debate) and school is rapidly approaching. We were blessed to home school last year, so are a little nervous about the kids being back in public school, though they are in wonderful programs. This year we'll have my husband in grad school, my son in 2nd Grade, and my daughter at Montessori preschool, so we'll all four be in four different schools!

Anticipating the need to give more time to my family and my classroom, I plan on substantially decreasing my blog presence. I did a similar thing last August, but had not the grace to let you know first.

My goal is to post once a month, near the beginning of the month, so here is my post for August: Dormition Fast Menu

Sunday - Procession of the Cross
Supper: Caponata and Polenta (with olive oil instead of butter)

Breakfast: Vegan Banana Bread I can't count the endless number of times we've enjoyed this - thank you so much, Matushka Emily, for sharing it!
Lunch: Crock Pot Veggie Soup
Dinner: Tostados (crunchy corn rounds topped with seasoned refried beans, caramelized onions & kale, tomatoes, and guacamole)

Breakfast: English Muffins and Fruit
Lunch: Polenta Slices (leftover from Sunday)with Peanut Butter Sauce or with Caramelized Onions and Kale from yesterday
Supper: Purple-hull Pea Patties or Pasta and Marinara

Breakfast: Scrambled Tofu
Lunch: Boca Burgers
Supper: Pinto Beans and Rice

Breakfast: Squash Bread (like Banana Bread recipe, but use mashed cooked Sugar-Pumpkin Squash in place of banana)
Lunch: Bean Quesadillas
Supper: Liturgy for the Transfiguration

Friday - Transfiguration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Breakfast: English Muffins and Fruit
Lunch: Peanut Butter and Jelly
Supper: Grilled Fish marinaded in Dales

Breakfast: Pancakes
Lunch: Bread, Earth Balance, and Sauteed Greens
Supper: Pizzas made with Mission Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Wraps and the crust, Basil Almond Pesto, mushrooms, tomatoes, and veggie mozerella.

Week 2 will be the same, except Monday will include Alaskan Salmon Patties in honor of St. Herman of Alaska

Snacks: grapes, banana chips, almonds, animal crackers, flour tortillas

And to feast, I highly recommend this Lasagna Casserole, which makes enough to serve one 8x8 pan and freeze the 2nd 8x8 pan for another week.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Gifts from God: More Monasteries

The Dormition of the Theotokos in Michigan had a wonderful children's garden, planted by Abbess Benedicta, memory eternal.

I would love to create some of these little rock messages in our garden at home.
The Monastery also sells little nun and monk dolls , which were dotted all along the children's garden, re-enacting various scriptures and events.

At Holy Cross Hermitage in West Virginia, we all got to milk goats!

The monks use the goat milk to make soap and lotion products.

Although the monastery website provides a woderful 7-page Vistors Guide, I would add One More bit of ADVICE as a Mother:

Do NOT put your little girl in pretty church shoes. Tennis shoes or mud boots would be much more appropriate for milking goats and hiking through the woods!

As the monks said every time we told them "Thank You" for something,

THANK GOD for our summer visits!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Gifts from God: Visiting Monasteries

We were blessed to spend an afternoon at the Presentation of the Theotokos Monastery in Marshfield, MO on our annual summer drive to the grandparents.
After visiting over a lovely afternoon snack, we stepped into the stream of prayer that flows day and night all over the world in faithful monasteries.
The nuns introduced us to some instruments that often call people to prayer.
Little Builder ringing the bells (with protective ear coverings).

Hammering the simantron. Mother Alexandra explained that when the animals heard Noah beating his hammer, they heard it as a call to come to the ark; and so we also can hear the beating of the wood as a call to enter the ark of the Church of Christ.

In general Abbess Sergia and Mother Alexandra were so generous and attentive to the children. When we asked them later what they remembered about the monastery they replied,
"the sweet nuns."

During the evening prayer services, both children were unusally peaceful and quiet. Our souls indeed were nourished by the sweet and holy spiritual atmosphere in the chapel.

Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Scrambled Tofu Rancheros

Although my first encounter with Scrambled Tofu was pretty unsatisfying, I've been tweaking the process for the past year and found something my husband and I both like. The recipe is the same as linked above, except that I don't use bell pepper anymore - just nicely browned onion and garlic in olive oil.

The key, I think, is draining the tofu. That gets rid of the strange flavor.

This morning,

I grilled a corn tortilla,
spread some re-fried beans on the roasted corn goodness,
spooned on some tofu scramble,
and topped with salsa and fresh diced tomatoes.

It's not something I would make every morning, but sometimes during a fast a little extra protein helps.

Since I would eat Mexican food five times a week if my family tolerated it, this meal is a special treat for me.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Beautiful Beans

At Coffee Hour last Sunday, our priest's wife asked me if I had planted beans. "They are so gratifying" she explained, "they sprout quickly and flower." I agreed with her; they are gratifying. And, I figured, by way of fasting food they are Orthodox. (smile)

I planted two types of beans this year. Pole beans called rattlesnake, which have a horrid name, but make pretty green beans with dark purple splashes that disappear when they cook. Sort of like those hot wheels cars that turn colors in the freezer, but more, um, natural.

Those will slowly produce all summer. I wish I had planted more!

Then, I planted etna beans, which are an Italian Soup bean. Why did I choose etna? Well, they make pretty pink and white pods and pink and white beans - why else! Also, I figured soup beans would be good to have around.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Farmers Market Goodies

Our square foot garden is taking off, but we still head to our little town's Farmers Market each Saturday morning.

Zinnias for our Anniversary (11 years!)

Squash and Peaches scattered about the counter

We are so very thankful to have the opportunity to be locavores, and I especially appreciate the opportunity to get to know the growers has we visit them throughout the summer!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gift from God: Zuchinni Bread

I finally couldn't put it off any longer.

Every time I take a bite of my Pawpaw's recipe, I can see and hear and smell my Nana & Pawpaw's kitchen. The only reason I hesitated is because of doubt that the recipe, copied from a phone call in my mother's hand on yellow and white striped paper, would translate into a fasting treat, but it was time. Time for for Zucchini Bread.

I'm glad I did it, and here's the recipe for any of you who might be starting to get an abundant crop.

The only change is that the original recipe called for 3 eggs instead of rice milk and egg-replacer.

The Ingredients
3/4 cup of rice (or soy) milk, warmed and beat with 1&1/2 TBS of Energy Egg-Replacer
update: taking Marfa's advice, I made it again with 3/4 cup of applesauce and 2 TBS of flax meal instead of the rice milk/egg replacer combo - worked just fine. I did decrease the sugar a little, to compensate for the added sweetness.
1 c oil
2 c grated raw zucchini
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
3 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1&1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

The Steps
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Grease 2 large loaf pans.
3. Beat wet ingredients and sugar.
4. Sift dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
5. Add dry to wet and add 1 TBS of vanilla, and optional chopped nuts or raisins.
6. Bake 50-60 minutes.

One loaf stuck to the pan because we didn't wait until it cooled to take it out. The other loafs came out fine after a couple of hours cooling. It seems a little oily, so I might decrease the oil next time, but let me tell you:

sitting at our round wooden kitchen table here in 2010, I was completely transported to 1986, at the rectangular table in my Pawpaw & Nana's kitchen in the little village in south Louisiana. Thank you, God, and please bless my grandfather Gilliam, and grant rest to the soul of my grandmother June.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gift from God: Working Mother at Home

As a teacher, I am very thankful for my summers at home with my kids.

Though I do feel, a bit... incapable maybe?

This morning at 7am I woke up determined to accomplish one major thing today:

Sweep the tile living room floor.

At precisely 2:08 pm, I finished sweeping. Okay, prayers and breakfast are important. And lunch. But how did it take us so long to clean the living room floor and sweep?

At school, the bell rings every 55 minutes, and grown-ups and students move and function. I guess I need to find my rhythm at home.

Lord, thank you for these precious months.
Lord have mercy on us, and help us find a way to work as a family at home.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Win, Lose or Draw?

Win - Spicy Green and Black Saute'
Last night, a friend brought over some sweet basil, a black bell pepper, a banana pepper, and a long hot pepper. We chopped them up and sauteed them with some garlic and chopped zuchinni. Oh my - a real treat.

Lose - harvesting cucumbers naively, attacked by little pricklies that this novice gardener did not realize guarded cucumbers.

Draw - My Shopping List. Somehow I left a couple of things from the last fast on there (like creamed corn and hominy) that I don't need this month, and I'm having trouble editing them back out. Oh well. By the way, I ended up scratching off over half the list before going, so it's not as huge of a list in practice as it appears.

And... more wins!

Win - Wheat Berry Tabouli
Whisk juice of 1 lemon, twice as much olive oil, salt, pepper and 1 clove of minced garlic. Pour over cooked wheat berries (1 cup), a chopped cucumber, a chopped tomatoe, and some chopped mint. I would have used parsley, but mine is going to seed so I didn't bother. Nice.

Win - Sunny Squash Soup, borrowed from Fat Free Vegan. I added all the optional ingredients except the tumeric, and only used half a jalepeno. Because of the potatoes, this soup was very creamy. Terrific way to use summer squash!

Chickpea Mash for Sandwiches

Since Presv. Maria asked,

Basically, drain the can of chickpeas and then then pretend you're making traditional tuna salad.

Add mayo, mustard, sweet pickle relish and a little salt and pepper. Mash it all up and use with bread or crackers.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Apostles Fast Menu

Here's one more menu, to add to the many good ones already out there, in case you are looking for fasting ideas.

We rotate suppers every other week, but keep breakfast and lunch the same. The google document has many links to recipes, and I'll try to add more as I get them collected.

View Apostles Fast Menu on Google Docs

Here's the Shopping List. It is VERY tailored to our hometown, and I would probably not buy all these things every week. Hopefully the garden will provide most of the produce. However, I can print this off, carry it around the kitchen, strike through the things I already have, and then use it at the store. It covers 2 weeks, with the exception (which is marked in the document) of produce that will be bought fresh for the second week.

And just for fun, here are two of my favorite recipes that I would have put in the menu, except that they are too spicy for my family:

Vegetarian Kung Pao
Green Chile Potato Soup

First Fruits - Oriental Coleslaw

So little, yet so exciting! I had to laugh as I was reminded of the Israelites tithing their first fruits to God. What good would one small, oblong bell pepper and a sprig of basil do?

This bell pepper and thai basil teamed up with a cabbage from the Farmer's Market to make Oriental Coleslaw. No one else in my family likes it, which worked out well, as I took the leftovers for lunch at school all week. What a treat!

Oriental Coleslaw

The Ingredients
1 small head of cabbage
1 carrot, grated
1 bell pepper, thinly diced
1/2 cup of toasted almonds, chopped
1 pack of Oriental Ramen noodles, crushed
2 Tbs of Sesame Seeds
1/3 cup of roasted pumpkin seeds
1 green onion, thinly sliced
4-5 leaves of thai basil, thinly sliced

1/2 cup sugar (or less to taste)
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
seasoning packet from noodles

1. If you want to achieve Asian appearance, roll up 3-4 individual leaves of cabbage at a time and very thinly slice across for long, skinny ribbons.
2. Cook and stir dressing ingredients until boiling. Cool.
3. Right before serving, add dressing and mix.
4. Most importantly! - Leave out any ingredients you don't like and throw in ones you do.

Don't like cabbage? Use broccoli in stead.
Want meat? Add chopped cooked chicken.
Oh, and honey-roasted sunflower seeds are very good in this.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Gifts from God - Pentecost Flowers

Inspired by posts by Matushka Emily and Sara at Liturgical Year For Little Ones, the kids and I went outside this morning to find flowers for Pentecost. Oriental Lilies, Cosmos, Oregeno, Parsley, Jasmine, and Various Flowering Weeds made their way from ground to little red bike trailer to vase.

Blessed Feast!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Garden - 3 weeks later

big tomatoes
cherry tomatoes
rattlesnake green beans
etna italian soup beans
new zealand spinach
mesclun lettuce
spineless okra
banana peppers
jalepeno peppers
green bell peppers
yellow bell peppers
thai basil
sweet basil
mojito mint
lemon balm

still to plant: eggplant and delicata squash

Friday, April 30, 2010

For an Abundance of the Fruits of the Earth

Let us pray to the Lord!

Inspired by my fellow bloggers' garden plans, I decided to post our little garden plot for this Spring.

We started 3 years ago with a 4 x 8 plot, based on Square-Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. It is the plot you see in the foreground of the photo. Although you could just add all new bagged ingredients into your bed, we (well, my dad and husband) dug up a little of our own soil and mixed it with topsoil, compost, peat, and cow manure. That way we didn't have to purchase as many bags.

This year we added a 3 ft. by 8 ft. raised bed behind it, with (drum roll, please......) TRELLISES! We had watched this video from our local library over the winter. Watched isn't accurate. We stalked this video. We watched it again and again and rewound certain sections, scribbling down measurements and tips. We watched it with building excitement (my son is my Little Builder after all). We watched it with growing confidence that we could actually do this. We re-checked it out of the library so many times they wouldn't let us renew it anymore.

Then we waited until it would quit raining already!

Over Spring Break, we built the new bed and trellis. Those pvc pipe pieces are nestling garden netting between them. After adding seeds and seedlings, we pinned in place a soaker hose, attached to a manual timer for easy, consistent watering. This bed is far away from the house, down by the sunny road,

To the left of the original bed are my pots of herbs and flowers, with some irises planted in the ground.

This is our Gift from God, and whenever I drive by it on the way out, I bless it with the sign of the cross and repeat the prayer from the Great Litany of Peace for an abundance of crops.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lenten Cookies - Easy & Sort of Healthy

Healthy? Well, they are still cookies, but these have a smaller ratio of sugar and fat than most recipes. Also, they have a bit of whole grains.

I adapted this recipe from a favorite cookbook: More With Less.

What makes them easy is that you pre-mix a gallon size batch of pantry ingredients and then whip up the last step whenever you need a treat.

1&1/2 cups white sugar
1&1/2 cups of brown sugar
1&1/2 cups white flour
1&1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Cut in:
2 cups shortening

6 cups of rolled oats

Mix well. Store in a cool place. (I use my pantry)

Cookie Day
For 2 dz small cookies:
1. Scoop out 2 cups of mix into a bowl.

2. Warm 1/2 cup of soy milk (or rice or almond milk) and mix in 1&1/2 tsp of Energy Egg-replacer and 1 tsp vanilla.

3. Combine the pantry mix with the wet mix. Add whatever variation you want (raisins and cinnamon make a good cookie; so do peanut butter chips and/or chocolate chips)

4. Spoon onto greased cookie sheet.

5. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350.

I guess I should have shared this sooner, since we only have a few weeks left of Great Lent! Sometimes these last weeks are the hardest, and with so many wine days coming up, a small treat seems like a good idea.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Starting to think about Pascha Flowers

I fondly remember the first time I was able to participate in decorating the Tomb.

I also have a special memory of using the Pascha flowers one year for Birth-Visualization and even though my daughter is about to turn three, I still think of those lilies.

Three weeks to go! I thank God for a helpful Lenten Retreat this past weekend on "The Hymns of Repentance."

Open to me the gates of repentance, O Giver of Life; for my spirit goes early to the temple of Thy Holiness, coming in the temple of my body, wholly polluted. But because Thou are compassionate, purify Thou me by the compassion of Thy mercies.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Green Bean and Potato Soup

Are you making M'Jeddrah or Tofu Spanikopita any time soon? If so, cut and fry extra onions, and save some to use in this filling soup!

This recipe made just enough for our litte family of four (kids = 3yr & 6yr)


1/2 to 1 cup of caramelized onions
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1/3 of a bell pepper, chopped
12 cups plus more water
1 TBS salt
1 TBS coffee creamer
1 bag of frozen green beans
1 large and 2 small potatoes, diced (that's what we had - adjust accordingly)
3 sprigs of rosemary
3 sprigs of thyme
1 TBS tahini


1. Simmer strongly the onions, carrot, celery and bell pepper in the water for 30 minutes. You're making a stock. If you need to use a small dash of dried herbs instead of fresh, you could go ahead and add them now.

2. Blend the stock & veggies to make your soup base. I use my hand-held immersion blender.

3. Add salt, creamer, and green beans and cook until as done as you like them. I did 30 minutes at a rolling boil, adding water as necessary.

4. Add potatoes and herbs and boil until the potatoes are tender.

5. Remove herbal twigs and whisk in tahini.

6. Adjust seasonings. I added some pepper.

Sorry no pictures, we devoured it too quickly, with a side of multigrain healthy bread.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Gifts from God: Thoughts for My Journey through Lent

The choir sang the first minor-keyed "Lord have mercy."

The priest's vestments changed to purple.

The prostrations began.

Experiencing these ancient traditions, I tangibly felt myself take a spiritual step into the journey of Great Lent.

Here are the thoughts I'm taking with me, thoughts that God has been gently and graciously revealing to me over the past few weeks, starting with this troparion, and last week with these words from Saints Barsenuphias and John.

And there is the Prayer of the Optima Elders, which includes these lines:

Whatsoever tidings I may receive during the day, do Thou teach me to accept tranquilly, in the firm conviction that all eventualities fulfill Thy Holy Will.


When things unforeseen occur , let me not forget that all cometh down from Thee

In the book I have been reading, Lynette's Hope, this theme has marched steadily through the pages:

God gives us what is profitable for our souls.

This book is a compilation of Albanian missionary mom Lynette Hoppe's newsletters, journals, and web posts as she struggles with stage 4 cancer. She writes:

One of the gifts God has given me recently is a spirit of deep contentment. I am contented with the cross I have been given, because I know that it is rooted in the goodness of God. Because God is good, all that He sends us is for our good.

Although she (and hundreds of others who loved her!) prayed for a miracle, Lynette also accepted the will of God:

I do not believe something bad has happened to me. I see this cancer as a manifestation of my Lord's desire to draw me nearer to himself. He wants all of me and not just a half-distracted nod in his direction now and then. I am honored to be entrusted with such a gift. I just hope I am worthy of it... My prayer is not for healing, but for the grace to walk with courage and joy through whatever I may encounter. I don't want to become ill-tempered and whiny. I want to shine through this and gain that for which it is intended: a deeper love for God and a closer walk with Him

As for me, I doubt my ability to have such faith in that circumstance, but here's what I am left with: If Lynette Hoppe can count cancer as "an eventuality that cometh down from Thee", if she can trust God in that extreme circumstance that the pain can have a purpose of drawing her nearer to God, then I can accept my lesser struggles and pain as an opportunity to grow closer to God. I can seek Him and His peace and joy in the present moment instead of worrying about our future.

Just this past week, we received a newsletter from our beloved Saints Mary and Martha Monastery, which encouraged me with these words:

The voice of the Lord is in each of our moments. He is ever present in the current activity whatever it may be: keeping a home, caring for self and others, worshipping, the job, or resting. Every relationship allows us to encounter our good God; therefore, if we look to Him instead of worrying about what if..., His peace will abide.

One last source of encouragement has wrapped it's arm around me. In the prayers at the end of the Akathist to the Mother of God, Nurturer of Children, lips sigh, "Oh Lord, give them that which is profitable for their salvation."

Again and again and again.

God gives us what is profitable for us.

I beg Him to help me trust in His great Love. I am thankful for this season of Lent, for the chance to offer myself to be molded by Him, to be drawn closer to Him. I don't want to ruin it with my lack of faith and acceptance. I beg God to help me surrender my pain and impatience to be transformed by His Love.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Quick Pantry Savers for Great Lent

I'm inviting you to a party, and hope you contribute!

Although our ideal is to eat locally grown, non-processed, whole food as much as possible; our reality sometimes betrays that. Especially my reality, which can be a little forgetful.

I thought, wouldn't it be nice to have ingredients for several easy meals waiting in the pantry or freezer. Then, on those days that get hectic and I can't soak and cook beans in time for dinner, we have some sure-fire savers to fall back on.

Here's an example: Black Bean Mexican Soup

Ingredients = 3 cans from the pantry

Pour them into a pot.

Add a few dashes of cumin and garlic powder.

Simmer for 20 minutes and pour into bowls.

This serves our small family of 4 (the kids are 2 yrs. and 6 yrs.), but could be easily doubled or tripled. If I have time I make cornbread as an accompaniment, but pre-made tortillas work just as well.

I need more recipes like this to have as a safety net during the Great Fast. Do you have any ideas to share? Just post a blog about it in the next week, and let me know the link. I'll compile all the links into one post for a "Quick Pantry Saver" party!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

When God Delays...

Last night after supper, my husband read to us about the Saints for the next day.

Today we remember Sts. Barsanuphias and John.

"Oh." he said. "We have their book. Father Seraphim and Fr. Herman translated their advice on the Spiritual Life for the monks living at St. Herman's."

"We do?" I pondered. See, last weekend our priest walked us through some writings of St. Basil, helping me to believe that it was indeed possible to read the spiritual fathers with understanding and benefit. I know, I know: this is something I was told 6 years ago when we became Orthodox, but my first venture into the Ante-Nicean Fathers was difficult; I had not yet been weaned from the milk of Max Lucado to be able to handle more mature food.

My husband replied, "Sure - it's over there in the bookshelf. I'll go get it."

This morning, while waiting for the computer to load, I opened Guidance Toward Spiritual Life to see what sort of guidance these holy men were giving.

from pg. 49:
When we pray and God delays in hearing (our prayer), He does this for our benefit, so as to teach us longsuffering; wherefore, we need not become downcast, saying, "We prayed and were not heard."

God knows what is profitable for a man.

Rejoice in the Lord, leave off all your cares, and pray for me, O my beloved brother, one in spirit (with me).

Advice I need to accept, ponder, and obey.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Irish Brown Bread for St. Brigid

After gaining some inspiration from Mary, who pointed me to Jane's blog about St. Brigid, I decided to pull out a recipe we've liked in the past. We've adapted it from Inn Time for Breakfast... Again.

2 cups of whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground, which is rather rustic)
1 cup of flour
1 cup of oatmeal
1 TBS baking soda
1 egg
2 TBS of vinegar plus enough milk to make 2&1/2 cups of "sour milk"

1. Combine dry ingredients.
2. Add egg and buttermilk, which the owners of the Will O'Glenn Irish Bed and Breakfast tell me makes the dough soft
3. Scrape dough into greased pie pan. (The original recipe called for shaping into a round loaf, but my dough is always too wet for forming it.)
4. Bake 400 degrees fro 20 minutes. Cut a cross into the top of the loaf.
5. Reduce heat to 200 and bake for another 30 minutes.

You're supposed to cut the cross before putting it in the oven, but my dough is too soft at that point to hold the cross lines, so we do it when we change temperatures.

Results - yummy whole grain goodness, especially with corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes.

Also yummy with jam and cheese for breakfast.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Job Interview and Sighs

60 people applied for that 1 job. Basically, the interviewer suggested my husand apply some other places.

"Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding.
In all of your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."

Book of Psalms

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Job Interviews and Giggles

My husband has been searching for employment and today, at the table, I was asking him about an upcoming interview (Monday if you would like to pray), wondering if the work schedule at the local state university hospital would allow him to get off for Pascha.

Upon hearing the name of the university, Little Builder asked him,

"So what job are you interviewing for, Papa? Football player?"

(actually, Social Worker)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Gifts from God

* your prayers, through which God granted us a calm weekend of debate tournament and travel with no problems.

* the Prayers of the Optima Elders, which gave me inspiration for my "wishes for my students" in my pep talk to them Saturday morning: that they may have strength to endure the fatigue of the day and face all that they meet with peace. The two-day tournaments are very grueling for the students, and I truly prayed this for them.

* encouraging words from Mairs for my classroom:
The best teacher you can be to *all* your students is the teacher who engages her students, makes them think, fosters a positive classroom environment for everyone, teaches compassion in your demeanor and approach to all your students, even the ones you don't understand or know how to help academically.

* a fun morning of "Holiday Homeschooling" with the cousins, since public schools are out for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We said prayers, wrote spelling words, did a little science, making cinnamon cream to top our hot cocoa.

* earnest voice of the two year old from the back seat, singing "God, gwant you many ears!" (she means years, just has trouble with the pronunciation)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Heading out of Town...

...and bringing 26 high school students!

Prayers would be appreciated as I take the Debate Team on a tournament. We'll leave after school today on the big yellow bus.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Carrot Souffle

revisiting a treat from last January...

The night you make it, it's dessert.
The next morning, it's breakfast bars.

I first enjoyed this recipe when eating with my grandparents. The menu included: black-eyed peas with sausage over rice, pineapple-cabbage coleslaw, and carrot souffle.

I'll give you the original recipe, but mention these changes I made:

-used only half the sugar
-used oil instead of butter (I've got a non-dairy girl)

The Ingredients
2 cups of cooked sliced carrots (or you could use 1 can of carrots, drained)
3 TBS butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp flour
1 tsp vanilla

The Steps
1. Place everything in a blender
2. Blend until smooth
3. Bake in a greased casserole dish at 350 for 45 minutes

FYI - I usually plan to make this the night after I make carrots as a side dish. I make extra, so I have them on hand.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Gifts from God: Encouragement

On Saturday morning during our prayers of the Third Hour (thank you, Mary), when Little Builder read the troparion for the departed, I had to ask him to stop and read it again. How could I have missed it before?

O Thou Who by the depth of Thy wisdom, out of love for mankind, dost provide all things, and grantest to all that which is profitable...

I have been struggling with trusting God with some areas dear to my heart, and He has been so graciously reminding me of His Love and that He will provide all we need.

Thank you, O Lord, for giving me the gift of encouragement.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Book Review and Lessons: The Woman and the Wheat

In the weeks before Christmas, it was very common to hear the gentle roar of the UPS or FedEx truck zooming up the driveway and around to the back of the house.

One white padded parcel carried a surprise: a book we didn't have to wrap or wait to read. The Woman and the Wheat by Jane G. Meyer! I am grateful for the opportunity to review another of her books.

The Woman and the Wheat is a follow-up to The Man and the Vine, both tracing the elements that will make up the Eucharist, along with the people who nurture them. I encourage you to read the story behind the story, and you might want to listen to the audio recording of the Man and the Vine.

This review will be divided into 2 sections: The Illustrations, and The Rhythm.

The Illustrations
Ned Gannon's vision of the woman is warm and strong. I can't help but veer from the review here: And she lives in my dream home. Oh, to have that wood-burning oven! Oh, to have those huge skylights! To be a farmer and a baker!

In an interview with the illustrator, Gannon shares that his favorite image is the one of the woman in the wheat field, because it envelops many childhood memories in Kansas. He paints with a sense of authenticity, which richly portrays Meyer's story.

Let's get to that story.

The Rhythm

My high school students and I happened to be reviewing metrical feet before the Christmas break. We were learning how to scan a poem, which you can learn about with this nice Powerpoint presentation (not mine) and see more examples of words marked up here.

As I was standing in the front of the gray classroom, clapping my hands and inflecting my voice to emphasize the stressed and unstressed syllables of a word, Jane G. Meyers' words started playing across my brain.

The "a ha!" moment cleared up for me why her writing seems so poetic even though it doesn't rhyme - she uses metrical rhythm. I wonder if she mathematically plans it that way - substituting this word for another that fits the meter - or if the words just come to her head already packaged in a rhythm? (Jane - are you reading? Can you comment?)

If you teach middle or high school students, I don't know why you wouldn't watch that slide presentation (or do your own research), define and learn the different types of feet, and then scan The Woman and the Wheat as an exercise in analyzing literature.

Well, I can think of one reason why. You might rather read it for enjoyment or for theology. The lyrical words portray the most awesome truth about our Lord Jesus Christ. My favorite lines are not my favorite for the meter, but for the meaning: they describe the woman as she approaches the chalice:

She opened wide and the love filled her mouth and she thought of the wheat and she thought of the love. She kissed the cup and she prayed a prayer, and the joy grew loud in her soul.

Love filled her mouth.

A few weeks ago my priest encouraged me, "if God loves us, then there is no reason to feel despondent."

That LOVE is something I often seem to overlook. I get too caught up in all the things that must be done, or in the details of following our Faith, and I pridefully try to accomplish everything myself, which is bad theology. I can do nothing without Christ.

Then, blinded to the truth, I begin to believe that God is not going to take care of things and meanwhile it becomes increasingly clear that I certainly fail at taking care of everything. Despondency. Unnecessary despondency. Unnecessary because God does love us. If the Invincible One - who has all power over all things and can do not only the impossible, but also the mundane - if He who has the power to do loves us, then all that is needed will be done.

Our most loving God offers us a rhythm to receive His love. The rhythm of the feasts and fasts, of names-days, of Gospel readings and hymns carrying us through each year. The rhythm of morning and evening prayers and the prayers of the Hours. Moments of stressed importance to draw us back to Him when we would get too wrapped up in the unimportant.

The rhythm of Communion. Each time we approach the blessed sacrament of Communion, we mystically share intimacy with Christ who is Love.

Love filled her mouth.

Thank you, Jane G. Meyer, for two lovely books that are joyful children books, that trace the life cycle of nature and connect it to man's co-work with God, and that remind me of the Love of our Lord Jesus Christ.