Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hearts in Nature Challenge

Love is all around us, as the song goes.  
There are hearts all around us too!
I kept my eyes and camera open recently to see how many I could spot.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Truffles, Cake Balls & Hearts Oh MY!

So how do you host a tea party for 100 people?
You need a lot of truffles and cake balls!

The cake ball recipe is so simple.
Make a box cake mix or two, pick a flavor, these were red velvet of course.
Then once cooled, mash it up in bowl with a can of chocolate icing.
Roll them into balls and put them in the fridge or a cold place.
When hardened a bit, dip them in white chocolate and add sprinkles.

The truffles were just as easy.
All you need is to mix 8oz cream cheese, 3 cups icing sugar, 3 cups melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and a flavoring of your choice (almond, vanilla, orange,  etc.)  
Roll them, cool them, dip them or decorate them.
Coatings can be cocoa, sugar, coconut, crushed nuts, chocolate, sprinkles, 
this is where you really get to be creative.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Candy Cane Hearts

I hope you haven't thrown them all out.
Have you ever wondered what to do with leftover candy canes?
What about a sweet and minty treat for Valentine's Day.
All you need to do, is set them on parchment paper, and heat your oven to 200 degrees.
Place them in for about 10-15 minutes, take out and cool.
That's it!

You can see here, the rounder ones were in for less time.
If you want flatter ones leave in longer.
Use them on top of brownies, or as a decorative accent with ice cream.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Look who visited

It has been so very quiet here on the bird front.
Probably because it is so very cold.
We got a new feeder.

Isn't it pretty.
No one has visited it yet.
But this little fellow visited the old one.
He stayed very briefly.
I want to get a bird bath, but don't want to run a cord out to it, so it doesn't freeze.
Hmm, maybe they make solar ones?
Wonder how hard that would be to make?

Can anyone name this little backyard friend?
Or have any ideas on the birdbath?
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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Feeling Dull

In the past week I've been feeling not quite right?
Nothing to panic over, just a feeling of a haze, 
a little foggy, not as much perk in my step.
I am getting everything done, the basics, 
but it all just feels dull.

On a brighter note,
we recently saw a friend who gave us a wonderful treat.
Coffee from Minnesota, oooh does it make me smile.
IT IS DELICIOUS! Trust me, this house LOVES coffee.
I don't know about you, we make it twice a day, and
have tea in the evening, and still sleep fine.
That's another thing, I am falling asleep so much earlier?

Anyway, to try to make the treat last longer,
 I've been adding a scoop or two to our regular stuff.  
Sometimes even splitting the number of scoops by half, 
so it's more of the good stuff taste.

Last night IT HIT ME! I realized what has been wrong.
I can't believe I didn't see it before, you know the feeling.
Scroll back and look at the picture again, notice anything?

Here let me clarify where to look.

Here's the answer, it all makes sense now.
I am back on the full deal, and the world looks brighter again.
Still using this awesome gift, but now only at night,
who can argue with more sleep?

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

This was from Me

How do you handle stress? Grief? Joy? Good or bad fortune? 
This is letter that was written by St. Seraphim of Viritsa to a spiritual child who was imprisoned.  
Many years later, here we are, all prisoners of something, are we not?

File:0321 Serafim.jpg

This was from Me
by St. Seraphim of Viritsa

Have you ever thought that everything that concerns you, concerns Me, also? You are precious in my eyes and I love you; for this reason, it is a special joy for Me to train you. When temptations and the opponent [the Evil One] come upon you like a river, I want you to know that 
This was from Me.
I want you to know that your weakness has need of My strength, and your safety lies in allowing Me to protect you. I want you to know that when you are in difficult conditions, among people who do not understand you, and cast you away, 
This was from Me.
I am your God, the circumstances of your life are in My hands; you did not end up in your position by chance; this is precisely the position I have appointed for you. Weren't you asking Me to teach you humility? And there - I placed you precisely in the "school" where they teach this lesson. Your environment, and those who are around you, are performing My will. Do you have financial difficulties and can just barely survive? 
Know that This was from Me.
I want you to know that I dispose of your money, so take refuge in Me and depend upon Me. I want you to know that My storehouses are inexhaustible, and I am faithful in My promises. Let it never happen that they tell you in your need, "Do not believe in your Lord and God." Have you ever spent the night in suffering? Are you separated from your relatives, from those you love? I allowed this that you would turn to Me, and in Me find consolation and comfort. Did your friend or someone to whom you opened your heart, deceive you? This was from Me.
I allowed this frustration to touch you so that you would learn that your best friend is the Lord. I want you to bring everything to Me and tell Me everything. Did someone slander you? Leave it to Me; be attached to Me so that you can hide from the "contradiction of the nations." I will make your righteousness shine like light and your life like midday noon. Your plans were destroyed? Your soul yielded and you are exhausted? 
This was from Me.
You made plans and have your own goals; you brought them to Me to bless them. But I want you to leave it all to Me, to direct and guide the circumstances of your life by My hand, because you are the orphan, not the protagonist. Unexpected failures found you and despair overcame your heart, but know That this was from Me.
With tiredness and anxiety I am testing how strong your faith is in My promises and your boldness in prayer for your relatives. Why is it not you who entrusted their cares to My providential love? You must leave them to the protection of My All Pure Mother. Serious illness found you, which may be healed or may be incurable, and has nailed you to your bed. 
This was from Me.
Because I want you to know Me more deeply, through physical ailment, do not murmur against this trial I have sent you. And do not try to understand My plans for the salvation of people's souls, but unmurmuringly and humbly bow your head before My goodness. You were dreaming about doing something special for Me and, instead of doing it, you fell into a bed of pain. 
This was from Me.
Because then you were sunk in your own works and plans and I wouldn't have been able to draw your thoughts to Me. But I want to teach you the most deep thoughts and My lessons, so that you may serve Me. I want to teach you that you are nothing without Me. Some of my best children are those who, cut off from an active life, learn to use the weapon of ceaseless prayer. You were called unexpectedly to undertake a difficult and responsible position, supported by Me. I have given you these difficulties and as the Lord God I will bless all your works, in all your paths. In everything I, your Lord, will be your guide and teacher. Remember always that every difficulty you come across, every offensive word, every slander and criticism, every obstacle to your works, which could cause frustration and disappointment, 
This is from Me.
Know and remember always, no matter where you are, That whatsoever hurts will be dulled as soon as you learn In all things, to look at Me. Everything has been sent to you by Me, for the perfection of your soul. 
All these things were from Me.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Scallop-Edged Lace Wrap

truly it gives me the satisfaction of feeling a form of completion.

Thought I would share a picture of my first attempt at knitting lace.
I used a soft acrylic, nothing fancy as I wanted to make sure it had easy care.
There are many mistakes but it is loved all the same.

The pattern is from my one of favorite little knitting books called, "Pretty Knits, 30 Designs from the Loop in London", Susan Cropper, 2007.  The pattern itself is by designer, Kate Samphier.
I found it at a discount store for $3.99 and am so glad I did!

It has some beautiful designs in it and definitely is worth more.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Happy Vasilopita Sunday

In many church communities, today is the cutting of the vasilopita for each ministry.

2013 has been a whirlwind already, 
I won't get into details.

The tradition in our home is a Vasilopita to cut on New Year's Day.
It is more cake, than bread, it's sweet and citrusy and glorious.
Sometimes we finish it all very quickly and then there are years like this one.
I froze it due to circumstances, I am always trying not to waste,
and then decided why not make it into trifle.

A sweet treat, cold and creamy.
Layers of vanilla pudding, whipped cream, fruit and orange jello.

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

It's time...for a change.

In my house,
 the only way to get over putting away the Christmas decor,
 is to start focusing on Valentine's Day!
So out comes the flag and wreath!
And soon...more to share!

Do you feel the same? Do you have this post-holiday down?
This winter upon us is going to feel long, 
especially long for those Orthodox Christians this year, 
with Easter/Pascha being in May!

So come on and tell me how you are planning on getting through it?

Have I ever told you how much I dislike to iron stuff?

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Making Stephana

I love weddings, 
which is a good thing because we get asked to attend many.
I had the great honor and privilege to be Koumbara (sponsor) to a beautiful couple, 
they recently celebrated their  2nd Anniversary.
Wishing you Many Years!
At the time, a dear sweet friend and Presvytera taught me how to make the stephana.
These were the result.
Made with love and good wishes, simple and sweet.

Thought I would share what she taught me.

First gather your materials.
Floral wire
White Floral tape
Pretty flowers, beads, pearls, picks
White ribbon, thin for wrapping and a little wider for the shared ribbon.

Wrap the floral wire to make the wreath shape and measure to make sure it will fit.  It doesn't have to encircle a person's head but it shouldn't be so small that it will likely fall off either.
Then wrap with floral tape.
Now it gets fun.
Start with your floral picks, pearls, flowers etc. hold each one and start wrapping white ribbon, which will hold each one in place and decorate the wedding wreath. Once finished, one ribbon end will come from the first stephani (wreath) and you may make a simple knot to the other to join them. 
I slipped in a few sewn stitches for extra security.
May God Bless the Happy Couple for Many Years.

Traditions are different what to do with the Wedding Crowns following the wedding. 
What I have experienced most is that they are placed either in a display box of their own 
or with an icon and placed on the wall of the family altar, or in the master bedroom.   
Later in life, I have seen families,
pass the wedding crowns to grandchildren 
and have also seen them placed with a person at final rest. 
It's all beautiful. 

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Look at how I got to start this blog-year! Yeh! A feature!
Thank you Michelle from Thrifty101, for featuring

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Feastday Mantle

When we started decorating for feasts this year, we decided to incorporate some of our icons. 
In the front you will see the sweet icon of the Annunciation with St. Vasilios behind, then St, Nicholas, the Holy Family, St. Spyridon followed by the Icon of Theophany.
Above is the Icon of the Theotokos of Vladimir.

Everything on the mantle has meaning and significance and make me smile.
Below is a basket with all our Christmas books to be shared.  I keep them all together and pack them away together each year.  We are always excited to see them when it's time.

Having them on the mantle this year, feels like it brought them even closer.
Lord Jesus Christ Have Mercy,
and our sweet Saints pray for us all.
Happy Feast Day, Xronia Polla!
To all of us but esp. to all with the name Vasilios and Vasiliki, Basil and all the variations.

Happy New Year!
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