Archive for the ‘In the Trenches’ Category

Hannah loves to tell everyone that Rebecca’s birthday falls on the 6th day of Christmas.  Some actually do the calculation and ask, “Do you mean December 30th?” Others just say, Oh, that’s nice!” However the day is designated, Rebecca’s birthday always falls outside of a fasting period. Even so, what kind of birthday cake does the child request for her birthday? A Lenten wacky cake!

Here’s the birthday girl just after having blown out her candles:


And here’s the recipe I use to make a wacky cake:

Wacky Cake

3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
6 heaping tbs. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. salt
2 c. sugar
3 tbs. vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. canola or corn oil
2 c. cold water

  1. Measure flour, soda, cocoa, salt, and sugar into large mixing bowl. Sift dry ingredients three times.
  2. Add vinegar, vanilla, oil, and water. Mix well.
  3. Pur batter into greased 9 X 13 inch baking pan and bake at 350 degree in a preheated oven for approximately 45 mnutes. Let cool on a wire rack. ENJOY!

Ideas for Topping:

  1. While hot, cover with chocolate chips.
  2. Make a glaze with confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and water; drizzle over cake.

Coming Next: January 5th is Rachel’s baptismal day!


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A Family Flag

The Olt Family Flag

The Olt Family Flag

This summer, the girls had fun watching the 2012 Olympics. Rachel became interested in the flags of various countries and began to study them in her dictionary. Since we were gearing up for the beginning of the homeschool year anyway, I thought that the girls might enjoy the challenge of collaborating on the design of a family flag. I explained that their task was to describe who we are as a family and what we believe through symbols. The above picture is the final version.

“We chose the colors blue and red because the Mother of God is dressed in those colors in an icon,” Hannah explained. “And gold because a censor is gold and the Byzantine cross because we are Christian,” Rachel chimed in.  Of course, each red star represents a family member. Whether the girls realize it, the flag also displays a certain hierarchy – God, parents, and children. Father-Deacon Joseph and I were quite impressed! We plan on getting the flag custom-made (at a very reasonable price) for Christmas.


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In the first issue of the Proskomen! newsletter, I had put a plug in for Journaling Throughout the Liturgical Year, which is described by the publisher as a creative and hands-on approach to studying, commemorating, and celebrating Pascha, the Twelve Great Feasts of the Orthodox Christian Liturgical Year, and the inspiring lives of a selection of twelve saints of the church.” This past week, we had our first, hands-on experience completing the project for the first Great Feast of the liturgical year, the Nativity of the Mother of God.

Rachel, Rebecca, & Hannah working on their frist Journaling Throughout the Liturgical Year entry.

Rachel, Rebecca, & Hannah working on their first “Journaling Throughout the Liturgical Year” entry.

The girls enjoyed coloring the festal icon while I read about the feast from The Incarnate God, which described the icon’s rich symbolism. We joyfully sang together You nativity O Mother of God . . . while the girls completed their cut & paste projects. The final product is a beautiful keepsake that the girls will cherish for years to come. Hannah was so excited about it that she took hers to Vespers to show the Fathers. Rachel plans to take hers after she completes the second entry, Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Rachel working on her icon of the feast.

Rachel working on her icon of the feast.

Journaling Throughout the Liturgical Year is a wonderful way to prepare the girls to celebrate the feast.

Hannah working on p. 2.

Hannah preparing to glue the troparion of the feast.

For more information about purchasing Journaling Throughout the Liturgical Year, please visit the website for St. Kassiani Press.

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