Saturday, March 3, 2018

New Pascha Basket Cover

I mentioned my new Pascha Basket Cover last month, but its just now available on spoonflower. I'm really happy with the way it turned out. If you want one, buy this fat quarter, but if you want to buy multiples, its better to buy this by the yard. Remember this is just fabric, you'll have to finish the cloth yourself.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Lenten Crab Cakes

1 cup bread crumbs (or about 3 slices of bread toasted on both sides and processed)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp old bay seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 yellow onion diced finely (or processed in food processor)
1 6 oz can of crab meat
6 saltine crackers

Mix first 5 ingredients together, then fold in crab meat. Crush 1/8 cup of saltine crackers (about 6). Make slightly flattened balls from crab mixture and dip in cracker crumbs (about 6-8 patties depending on size). Heat a skillet with a little oil, and place patties in skillet when hot. Cook patties 5 minutes per side. Don't put in before oil is hot, or smush patties too much, or flip too often lest they will fall apart.

I had to look at a bunch of recipes to get the proportions right while leaving out egg and mayo. No picture, but they turned out pretty tasty! I think they'd be nice for weekends or Annunciation potluck!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Prayer of St. Ephraim Printable

I printed these for our sunday school class. The image is a little smaller than a full sheet of paper, so you can cut a piece of cardstock into fourths and glue these neatly onto the cardstock. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Akathist Printable

We have the book "Rejoice, Panagia" which is a beautifully illustrated book about the Akathist. I do really love it, but the translation is different than what we use in church, and it uses the greek letters. Those things make it harder to explain the alphabet acronym to my kids. So, I've been meaning to put together a printable for several years, and finally got around to it. My kids will take it to the Akathist tonight to follow along, along with the pretty book. It uses the version of the Akathist from the Antiochian liturgical guide.

It fits on one page, front and back, and should be folded in half like a book. You can color the letters, but its mostly for readers who will be paying attention to how the verses follow the alphabet. Drag the jpgs to your desktop, or download or print the pdf embedded below.

Friday, February 16, 2018

New Pascha Basket Cover Design and Printable Cards

This is pretty similar to my old one, but I freshened up the flowers and added Serbian. I've uploaded the design to spoonflower if anyone else wants to make a cover. There are two options - the first version is embedded below is for a single cover printed on a fat quarter. Or, if you'd like to make a bunch as gifts, use this one to get 4 printed on a yard with the basic repeat.

new pascha basket cover for fat quarter

And here's the design for regular printing to make cards at home. We like to print the 4 to a page on cardstock, and the kids give them to their friends on Pascha.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

5 Beautiful Things You Might Not Know About Lent

A few years ago, I wrote about why I love celebrating Lent and Easter. I focused on baskets and eggs and all the things that usually get called pagan. But those things are just the tip of the iceberg. Today I wanted to share 5 things you may not know about Lent, that I think make the season really beautiful (and still totally Christian).

1. Its not just about fasting.
Fasting gets a lot of attention, but it means nothing if not coupled with prayer and almsgiving. Together these three pillars of piety draw us into proper relationship with God (prayer), ourselves (fasting), and our neighbor (almsgiving). (Orthodoxwiki, The Theology of Giving)

And for the record, fasting isn't just about self-denial. Its an exercise. Exercise is hard and hurts in the beginning, but in the end it makes you stronger and sometimes even feels good. 

"What will fasting do for you? Don’t expect quick results, but over the years it will help get your ego out of the way. Fasting will help you gain control over the desires for self-will and immediate self-gratification. Fasting will unite you with Christ who sacrificed himself for you, with the many hungry people in the world, and with 250 million Orthodox Christians in every land with whom you are keeping the Fast." Father Bill Olnhausen

2. The Prayer of St. Ephraim.
This beautiful prayer is added to our daily personal prayers and included in many of our Lenten services. It was written by a 4th century Syrian monk and poet, and is a summary of what we're working towards during Lent. It is said with prostrations in reverence before God, also reminding us of our baptism and that we fall and get up again. (Wikipedia, Prayer of St. Ephraim)
"O Lord and Master of my life, take from me a spirit of despondency, sloth, love of power, and idle talk. (prostration)
But give to me, your servant, a spirit of sober-mindedness, humility, patience, and love. (prostration)
Yes, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sins and not to judge my brother, since you are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (prostration)"

3. Almsgiving.
The fathers have a lot to say on almsgiving, especially during the fast. These are some of my favorite thoughts:
"When someone steals another's clothes, we call them a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor." - St. Basil the Great  
"Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works. If you see a poor man, take pity on him.If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him. Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands and all the members of our bodies. Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice. Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin. Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful. Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and gossip. Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism. For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and devour our brothers and sisters? May He who came to the world to save sinners strengthen us to complete the fast with humility, have mercy on us and save us." - St. John Chrysostom
Here are two worthwhile efforts to support this Lent. Our local Little Free Pantry distributes food for free to anyone with a need year round. And the Orthodox Mission in Kenya currently needs a new well for their orphanage.

4. Forgiveness Vespers
Orthodox Lent doesn't have an Ash Wednesday. For us, the beginning of Lent is the Vespers service for Clean Monday that includes the rite of Forgiveness. At the end of the service, we go through a kind of receiving line, in which each person in the parish bows and asks forgiveness of every other person, "Forgive me, a sinner." Each person replies with, "God forgives, and I forgive." It is both humbling and healing as you stand before your priest, your child, your best friend, and the person you had a disagreement with last week. With each person you realize what grudges you may beholding, or what offenses you might have caused - and then you forgive and are forgiven.

So we begin this season of repentance together with our loved ones, with a clean slate. The whole first week is sometimes called Clean Week. We clean out our pantries as we start the fast, we go to a lot of services (with a lot of prostrations), and we are forgiven. Its a really good way to start Lent.

5. St. Mary of Egypt
Towards the end of Lent, we have an evening service in which we read the Life of St. Mary of Egypt. St. Mary was a 6th century ascetic who lived a life of extreme repentance in the desert, and so we consider her example during Lent. Because she lived after bible times, most protestants will be unfamiliar with her life - but it is valuable for us to see the way the Gospel continues to sanctify people who turn to Christ beyond the book of Acts. We can't all flee to the desert for 47 years, but we can take comfort that God is close to the penitent. You can read the Life of St. Mary of Egypt here, or a summary here.  Click on the printable to the left for a kids comic version.

May this Lent lead you to the power of the cross and the joy of the open tomb. Blessed Fast!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Lenten Memory Verse Garden

I asked my kids what kind of Memory Verse project they wanted to do this year, and they chose the flower garden from years ago. But we decided that each child would make their own small garden this year instead of one big one, and I'm hoping that will mean less cutting that our window garden. If you want the bigger garden, follow the link above.

I shrunk the original pdf to fit on one page. It can be colored first, cut out as you go, and glued onto a clean sheet of paper to make a garden. There are notes on the paper to tell you what color to color each shape and what flower they make. The memory verses are the stems. Use the guide below to know which flower to use each week. The photo above might also be helpful. You can print a second page if you want extra flowers or leaves.

1. Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee: 1 red Poppy (color triangles yellow): “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” – Luke 18:13 
2. Sunday of the Prodigal Son: 2 yellow Blackeyed Susans: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.” – Luke 15:18 
3. Sunday of the Last Judgment: 2 purple Crocus with 2 yellow centers: "Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”- Matthew 25:40 
4. Forgiveness Sunday: 1 Phlox (purple oval with 12 small blue flowers glued on top) “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:21
1. Sunday of Orthodoxy: 1 yellow Marigold : “Come and see.” – John 1:46 
2. Sunday of St. Gregory Palamas: 3 purple Asters with yellow centers: “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you.’” – Mark 2:5 
3. Sunday of the Cross: 2 Carnations (use green for bottom section of flower, pink for top): “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” – Mark 8:34 
4. St. John of the Ladder: 3 blue Morning Glories with white star centers and 1 bud (assemble along one stem to make it look like a vine): “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” – Mark 9:23 
5. Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt: 1 Rose (draw green tiny triangles for thorns): "Whoever would be first among you must be servant of all.” – Mark 10:44 
1. Palm Sunday: 3 Ferns: “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” – John 12:12 
1. Great and Holy Pascha: 3 EASTER LILIES: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1: 4,5

I realize this guide started with the Triodion and so now we're behind, but we'll catch up, and, hey, its ready for the future.