Saturday, March 29, 2014

And Then There Were Three

Three more Saturday's until we celebrate our Lord's Resurrection!  

Monday, March 24, 2014

Annunciation- breaking the rules.

Today's JAR - Just a Reminder

During great and holy lent we do not celebrate Liturgy on weekdays with the exception of the Feast of Annunciation, so tomorrow's liturgy for Annunciation is a big deal.  

It's such a big deal that the fast is alleviated and fish (and oil) is allowed. 

It seems like a small gesture but it really is a treat.  

I hope you get a chance to celebrate the feast.  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Today's JAR- Just a Reminder. On the Third Sunday of Lent We Remember the Holy Cross

We remember the Holy Cross twice a year: on the Third Sunday of Lent, and on September 14th. 

The third Sunday is about half way through our 7 week Lenten journey, when we are starting to get hungry, tired and easily irritated.  The fast is wearing on us and we are finding the evening fast food commercials appetizing maybe even mouth watering.  We might even find that after three weeks of clean living, our thoughts wander more than we ever realized and we are not in as much control as we once imagined.

But the Church places the adoration of the Holy Cross before us to remind us of God's love, power, and willingness to endure all things for our salvation.  It is placed as a beacon before us to encourage and strengthen us on this spiritual journey with the awareness that this isn't going to be easy, but worth every effort we put into it. 

Let us carry our crosses quietly, bravely and courageously... with the understanding that God is always with us, the cross we carry strengthens us and we are half way to our destination. 

Today's JAR- Just a Reminder. Lent requires your time.

The third week of lent is a tough one.  I'm still getting used to the new diet.  I am realizing that my high ideals of everything I was going to accomplish during Lent was too high.  And I see that as we near the midpoint, I still have a long way to go. 

It's not too late for me to take a more realistic approach to the three major aspects of lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  But I am finding time to be my biggest struggle right now.  The new recipes take more time to prepare and cook as I learn them.  I've been "too busy" to attend the extra services.  I am also sure I can actually pick up one of my stacked books and make time to read those enlightening books on the lives of the saints.  And even if I don't have a dime to spare, there are plenty of people who don't need my money, just my time, some one to visit them and keep them company. 
Looks like a key element of lent is time more than anything else. 
How do we spend our time.?

On Marsh 29th I am going to be speaking at a retreat at the St. Photios Shrine in St. Augustine, FL about time and ways that we sanctify time, make it holy. 

I will first identify the 5 different types of time... Seasonal, Cyclical, Measurable, Relative, and Healing... I even add Greek as a sub category for those who think being late is a virtue.   

Then we will go through the twelve major feast days of the church calendar and identify how we can make room in our busy schedules to recognize them and celebrate them.  I will give a synopsis of each feast day and we will discuss traditions and menus.  For example, Palm Sunday is a day we traditionally eat fish and the Elevation of the Cross is a strict fast day. 

Do you know the twelve major feasts?  Can you identify the ones that are moveable, associated with Pascha/Easter?  
  1. Nativity of the Theotokos,
  2. Elevation of the Cross,
  3. Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple,
  4. Nativity of Christ,
  5. Theophany of our Lord,
  6. Presentation of Our Lord,
  7. Annunciation of the Theotokos,
  8. Palm Sunday,
  9. Ascension,
  10. Pentecost,
  11. Transfiguration of Our Lord,
  12. Dormition of the Theotokos. 

Stay strong as you continue on your Lenten journey.  If you are hungry, make adjustments and take your vitamins.  If you are finding it hard to make time for Lent, look at what you spend your time on.  Re-evaluate your priorities.  If we don't have time for prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we have to adjust something.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Today's JAR- Just a Reminder- Annunciation

Card available at

Tuesday, March 25, is the Feast of the Annunciation.  How are you going to celebrate this Major Feast of the Church?  Did you ask off work so you can attend Liturgy?  Did you plan a dinner considering fish is permitted on this day?  Did you realize Christmas is 9 months away? 

Don't let this holiday slip away. 

Luke 1: 26-38

Christ’s Birth Announced to Mary

 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”[c]
But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Menu Planner Week 3

Last year a fellow blogger ADVENTURES OF AN ORTHODOX MOM shared a helpful menu planning system she found on another blog and I thought it looked like a good idea.   I followed her instructions and adapted it to my organizational abilities and voila!  This really helps me stay away from pasta every night. 

Sunday-Roasted vegetables, steamed broccoli and fresh bread.

Monday-Lentil soup, baked sweet potato chips, cucumber salad

Tuesday-Pizza with left over veggies, salad, hummus

Wednesday-15 bean soup, baked potatoes, BOCA burgers

Thursday-Pierogies with sweet onions and mushrooms, giant bean casserole

Friday-Veggie Tacos, refried beans, guacamole, lentil soup,


Today's JAR- Fortune Telling is Against God's Will

Today's JAR  Just a Reminder

I was reading a popular blog on Greek traditions and my heart stopped when I read, HOW TO READ A COFFEE CUP.    She wrote, "Remember that this is superstition, a game, something to do for fun!"

Any time we look away from God to see our future we look to the demons.  I say this because when we look away, we no longer trust God's will to lead us, no longer learn from the journey, and no long depend on Him to give us what we need.   And any seed that is planted during these "games" can harm us even more.  They grow the weeds of doubt and fear, or false confidence.  

Fortune telling is more of a demonic practice than a game.  I feel the same way about horoscopes.  Or as I say, horror-scopes. 

If you want to know what your future holds, pray.  Establish your life towards a godly direction.  Nurture your relationship with God.  Keep your compass set on Christ and the Church's teachings.  I can assure you your future will hold challenges, joys, peace, falls and repentance.   Little by little, day by day, you will come to find that living each day will be enough for you to worry about and the future will be better left in God's hands.  Like manna in the desert, you will have every thing you need for today. 

Matthew 6:25-34  New King James Version (NKJV)

Do Not Worry

 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;  and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Two Weeks Down

Counting down the weeks with Lady Lent... Kyria Sarakosti.
How are you all holding up?  Getting hungry yet?  Tired of spaghetti?  I have been sharing some of my old recipes on my facebook page.  I hope you are following me there. 


Friday, March 14, 2014

A Proper Foundation Never Has a Cement Base

Parenting is funny.  Growing up is funnier.  We spend years teaching children to think for themselves and be problem solvers.  We encourage them to find the rhythm of their own drum.  But do we remember to show them the beauty and freedom of obedience?  Do we teach them that there will be times when they will have to trust God with all their heart, and not themselves? 

How many of us like to be corrected?  Like to be redirected?  Like to be told what to do?  There comes an age when, truth be told, we become very uncomfortable when someone tells us what to do.  We are already set... hardened... cured.

But Lent is all about changing that.  Lent is about softening ourselves enough that we can be adjusted, put back to right, re-learn to trust with all our hearts and be obedient to God.

The best way for me to describe it is with a construction analogy.  In my experience, I have found that we establish a foundation of truths, how we define God, and ways that the world works for us.  It is a foundation that can carry the weight of our childhood, adolescence... maybe even young adulthood.    If we are smart, we keep reworking the base to adjust to our changes in life.   We adjust it by growing in our faith.  We adjust it by growing in our relationships.  We adjust it by growing in our knowledge of God.   

Maybe a truth or relationship part of the foundation was appropriate for a time, but now that we are older, the foundation needs to be tweaked. 

But if we pour the cement too soon, or get too comfortable, we become stifled. We forget that this foundation is one that has to constantly be rebuilt so that it can grow with us.  The more complicated life gets, the more precise the foundation needs to be and so adjustments are made. 

Lent is the time we stop and check our beams, anchors, braces.  Lent is the time we check to see if we've outgrown our foundation.  

Our cement was never meant to be poured till our time for repentance has passed.  So if you are still breathing, you are still under construction. 

It's time to find a good appraiser (spiritual father) and check to see if your foundations are up to code.  :).  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lenten Update and Menu Plan

Lady Lent one week down...

One and a half weeks down and five and a half more to go... and I feel like an amateur vegan.  Partially because no one is paying me to cook.   hehehe.  But mostly because  I see so many cool recipes online and it makes me think of all the cool things I am not cooking for my family.  Home made veggie burgers, zucchini and gnocchi, coconut milk cheese... all seem "above my pay scale."  Not impossible... It is not my normal Greek cuisine... and seems like a job that requires more counter space. 
With the vegan diet shift, I have left my blender (for smoothies,) mixer (for breads,) crock pot (for bean soups,) and food processor (for hummus and taramosalata,) out on the counter.  These are appliances I usually keep in the cabinets but find myself using more often than before so I haven't put them all away.  Unfortunately, they are really cramping my style.  I will have to rethink the counter situation. 
I did make a successful Lenten mashed potato with the roasted garlic, sea salt and soy milk.  I favor soy milk with cooking, coconut milk with smoothies and almond milk with pancakes.   I don't get any of them sweetened or flavored, and I try to buy them one at a time. 

My menu plan for the rest of the week?  (Is it Wednesday already?!)

Wednesday:  mashed potatoes and fake meat Skyline Chili chili

Thursday: fried zucchini, mushroom orzo/rice pilaf, sautéed spinach, and a cucumber salad

Friday: baked tofu, grilled veggies and steamed (or left over) rice

Saturday: veggie pizza with left overs including grilled sweet potatoes.  The sweet potatoes add a creaminess that makes up for the lack of cheese. 

Sunday: Maybe out for Mexican after church...

I hope you are taking advantage of all the aspects of Lent, and not just on a restrictive diet. This season of reflection and prayer is a great gift. 

Sunday, March 09, 2014

This is the Faith of the Apostles!

Today we stood outside our church doors and faced to street with our icons, read the proclamation for the Sunday of Orthodoxy and sang out, 
"Who is so great a god as our God? 
You are a God Who alone does wonders!" 
I love the Sunday of Orthodoxy!  It makes me realize how historic and broad Orthodoxy is... it's not just us in our little parish but it's all of us throughout the centuries and across the globe! 
One thing that makes the Orthodox (and Catholic) different from the other Christian religions is our respect of the oral traditions as well as the written ones...  Thank you, St. Basil, who made us aware of this importance.  We maintain traditions that are beyond the contents of the written Word, the Bible.  We make the sign of the cross.  We venerate icons.  We baptize infants and make them full members of the faith community... just to name a few. 
People often wonder about the use of icons in the Orthodox church.  Some inappropriately call them idols.  But they are not idols.  We do not believe the icon to be God, but that our love for Him extends to even the image of Him, as anyone would cherish a photo of a loved one.  And today, we  are reminded of the importance as we proclaim, "On the one hand, worshiping and reverencing Christ as God and Lord. And on the other hand, honoring and venerating His Saints as true servants of the same Lord."  
Read the passage from the Synodikon of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, which we read in unison earlier today...

As the Prophets beheld,
As the Ap
ostles taught,
As the Church received,
As the Teachers dogmatized,
As the Universe agreed,
As Grace illumined,
As the Truth revealed,
As falsehood passed away,
As Wisdom presented,
As Christ awarded,

Thus we declare,
Thus we assert,
Thus we proclaim Christ our true God
and honor His saints,

In words,
In writings,
In thoughts,
In sacrifices,
In churches,
In holy icons.

On the one hand, worshiping and reverencing Christ as God and Lord. And on the other hand, honoring and venerating His Saints as true servants of the same Lord.

This is the Faith of the Apostles.
This is the Faith of the Fathers.
This is the Faith of the Orthodox.
This is the Faith which has established the Universe.
I hope you are able to rejoice in today's celebration, considering that even today there are people who do not have the liberties or freedoms to stand outside their church and make this same proclamation.  There are cities today (Syria) where people are killed for saying things like this in public.
God bless America and the Orthodox Church!

Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Perils of Lentils, My New Found Favorite

When President George Bush, declared in 1990 that ''I do not like broccoli, and I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States, and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli!'' I stood and cheered!  Such was my dislike for Lentils. 
But as I enter into another fast, I am finding it harder to get the necessary nutrients and I have finally found a recipe I can not only swallow but enjoy. 
My mom helped me with this post... 
Half a bag of Lentils is all we make at a time. 

Lentils... look for small pebbles.

Rinse with warm water.

Fill large pot with enough water so the lentils have room for movement while boiling. 

Boil for 5 minutes.  Water will get cloudy.

Strain lentils, to remove dark water but no need to rinse.   I've found the meal to be lighter when I rinse out the water. 

Have three quarts of boiling water on stove ready to quickly return to cooking the beans. 

Return to boil.

Chop 2 celery stalks, 3 carrots, 1 onion, parsley, 4 whole garlic cloves and add to soup. 
Also add 1/2 c tomato sauce, 1 bay leaf, 1 t salt and 1/4 t pepper.

Cook for another 30 minutes and remove foam if necessary.

Add olive oil at end to taste.  I don't know why my mom uses such a small spoon. 

Add your choice of vinegar to taste.




Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Menu Planner, Getting Organized

You know how in military training they will push you beyond your comfort zone and then ask you to do simple tasks to see what your true limits are?  I feel like that today, and it's only 2 PM.  Now on day two of the official fast, I have found myself far beyond my comfort zone and with the simple task of completing my Lenten Menu Binder. 

I've been maintaining this blog for a year or so and I found I need for a better way to organize my recipes, especially a need to clarify which ones I've blogged already and when. 

My dilemma?  

How do I organize the meals?  How do I sort out the ingredients?  How do I stick a tiny tab on a plastic sheet protector so it matches up with all the rest and not condemn it to eternal damnation when it doesn't do what I want it to do?  

The verdict?

Meals are now organized by, and yes I know this is much more complicated than it actually needs to be:

BEANS, BREADS, GRAINS (rice,) PASTA, POTATO, and TOFU, although a bean, I have enough specific tofu recipes to warrant its own tab.

Then on to BROCCOLI, CABBAGE, EGGPLANT, MUSHROOM, SPINACH, and ZUCCHINI,  You may notice I am not a big fan of peas, green beans, nor asparagus.  ((I think I need a salad tab))

Oh, and SHRIMP, CLAMS, and FISH. 

I don't know where I am going to put Shrimp and Rice, or Clams and Pasta Shells.  But Stuffed Tomatoes with Rice, will go with GRAINS, since I don't have a TOMATO tab.  I should probably eat lunch before I tackle that First World issue. 

Any way... I'll be posting recipes soon. 

Monday, March 03, 2014

On Your Mark! Get Ready! Go! Fast... Slowly.

It's that time again and facebook is buzzing with Clean Monday traditions of seven legged Lenten Ladies, kites and lagana- Lenten bread.  These are wonderful traditions that celebrate the start of a new season of preparation.  I haven't written about those traditions... maybe next year...

For the next seven weeks I hope to offer recipes and encouragement to help you, and me, in maintaining a proper fasting experience.  The balance of prayer, fasting, and alms giving can be tricky.  The hardest part is not letting the diet consume us (like that play on words?)  or the services exhaust us.  Above all, this season should serve as a joyful offering of ourselves and not a forced sacrifice or punishment.  Be a cheerful giver.  If your offering isn't a gift that is freely given, it isn't really a gift at all, and in my opinion, you can keep it.  But if you are sincere about making an offering, one of love... then join us on this journey.  You won't regret it.

I love the play on words... while we are called to fast from certain foods, we are also called to slow down and redirect our attention to prayer, worship services and service to others... all which require us to slow down.  Slow down and pay attention to the words in the prayers.  Slow down and cancel things in your schedule so you can attend services.  Slow down and look the person you are helping in the eyes so you can make a personal connection to what you are doing. 

This is a yearly opportunity the Church offers us to step out of the world for a bit and enter into paradise.. for just a glimpse of it... one service, one meal, one relationship at a time.

I hope you are experiencing a good start to this holy time in the calendar.  Are you joining us in this journey?  We've lined up at the starting line and it's time to see what's waiting for us. 

On Your Mark! Get Ready! Go!

Fast... Slowly.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Today's Jar- Now is the Time.

Hoping you have a blessed Lent. 

I love how the psalmist compares the fast to a great sea...  Leavening images of a challenging journey where  some patches are rough, others are smooth... The sea is very deep and storms (temptations, struggles, passions) will come.  But we are on the sea with a destination in mind.  We are out at sea with a purpose.  Use your nautical tools: prayer services, fasting, alms giving...  Don't get lost at sea.  Keep your eye on the horizon.  Soon we will cry out "Land, Ho!"  And the relief of salvation will come as we sing "Christ is risen from the dead!"  

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Still Getting Ready.

It's almost here!   That special time of year when we set aside part of the world and regroup, to a more peaceful and simple lifestyle.  We make time for prayer and charitable activity.  We simplify our menus to a vegan/vegetarian diet.  We read a book to help us grow spiritually and we attend the special services of Lent: Compline, Presanctified Liturgy and Akathist.  And in 7 weeks we will joyfully proclaim Christ's resurrection with a crack of our red eggs and feast as if we were at a wedding banquet!  Our celebration will be ever more sweeter with the care and dedication to prayer, fasting and almsgiving that are elements of the Lenten Season. 

I've just started saving up my onion skins for my natural egg dye...  Last year I started late, and stopped by a restaurant, famous for their homemade onion rings and asked for their help in securing the onion skins.  This year I will try to save them myself. 

I wish you all a Good Beginning!  and a most Blessed Lent.