Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The beginning of 34 has been beautiful

Today went as planned.
Matins in the morning;
breakfast with my Grandmother.
Lunch with family.

Not the best picture;

but I am glad I have it;

it is a lunch that my Aunt always has for us:

boiled egg

good bread, jams, peanut butter

roggebrood (a small dense Dutch rye bread), cheese,

milk, coffee



How we laugh at my Aunt's house;

talking about my Mom and Cousins growing up years;

and the grand-babies of two of my Aunt's grandchildren.

I made the roasted root vegetables for my family's Christmas dinner;

this time I added a parsnip;

it turned out really well.


I got some special gifts -

some small spoons and tea towel that were my Oma's.

An icon of the Annunciation from my Godmother;

my ever present composition notebooks

(always have one with me)

Dutch soup mix and some simple delft blue egg cups

(for lunches like the one my Aunt had for us).

I must remember to show you all a beautiful

hand painted ornament of the Nativity

that my sister gave me from Romania.


A most wonderful day full of seeing many people I love.

The first day of my 34th year.

I have no idea what is in store for me this year

but I know I will need God for every step of the way.


I am off to the monastery for a few days.

I thank God that I have this opportunity.

God is rich in mercy.

Praying that as this year draws to a close that God

will comfort all of us as we face a new year

with all that it will contain.

God is with us.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

After Christmas / Family Christmas

Due to logistical factors my family's


(my parents are quick to remind me

Christmas already was)

as in when we have our meal and gifts

is tomorrow.

This means presents were wrapped today.


Or, well, are still being wrapped presently...

It's been a good day here

with laughter...


I think I am realizing on a different level

how much teasing and laughter

means to me.

It means happiness and being loved.

(My Great grandma's dishes that were given to my Mom
years ago)
We will have our Christmas /
my birthday (which is tomorrow) /
my sister's birthday (which was old calendar St. Nicholas day, the 19th)
dinner tomorrow.
We will use our best dishes (above).
I come from a family where the women on both sides
had good China dishes and loved them.
I am already busying planning a small
old calendar Christmas Eve dinner
and am organizing my Ottawa birthday party.
I just love creating beautiful evenings
with one's best dishes, table cloth, candles.
I am aware that creating these evenings are
high on my list of what is important in my life.
Hospitality is an art I want to continue to learn;
I learn by doing and I hope
to have many more evenings to create beauty
for those who come.
I am looking forward God willing to
It will be a very full day:
Matins in the morning (my Grandma is taking me!)
Breakfast after with her;
then lunch at my Aunts with my Mom, Sister and Cousins;
then home to prepare for our meal and
family gathering.
These are the days I look forward to all year.
I thank God for them.

Monday, December 27, 2010


I am still home in Michigan.

The insomnia has continued to the point that

this morning

I made breakfast and then went back to bed.

Got up again later, ate and soon went back to bed.

What I did not remember is that when I got up in the morning

I had put the kettle on for tea.

A kettle I have never gotten used to,

that would not snap shut like mine

and today I made a significant mistake.

I forgot I put it on all together.

The part that closes over the spout must not of closed properly

and I never heard it boil; my sister and brother-in-law

never heard it either.


My Dad found it -

thank God for His protection -

the was burner still on (!)

the water (it had been a full kettle)

boiled out,

the porcelain on the kettle actually burnt on

to the oven burner.

This is a mistake I never wanted to make;

not only was it a fire hazard...


Not my most shining moment.

So why tell you about it?


Because it impressed me again in what I have seen

in my Father.


I went to make lunch, thought tea would be nice

and instantly remembered that I was making tea

at 8 this morning

looked over, and there was no kettle, just the burner ring

and crumb tray.


I immediately put on my jacket, scarf, shoes

and went to my Dad's shop.

(My Dad is a professional painter of houses and

paints the doors, cupboards, and such things

in his shop which is near by to the house.)


I told him I realized what happened and asked about it.

Not a hint of reproach.

No condemnation.

Yes, the kettle is now in the trash.

The burner has porcelain seared on to it that my Dad

has tried to remove.

I of course confessed to the deed and I am sure

he knew I did it anyway.

When I said I could buy a new one,

he said

"Just worry about getting a job."


Whenever I have read about St. Silouan's father

and how gentle he was

how slow to reproach

and how quiet in it all,

It has always made me think of my Dad.


When I see this in my Dad once again

I am so thankful.

I did nothing to deserve such kindness.

(The jeweled Christmas tree was
my Great-Grandma's.)

We have had our extended family Christmas time;

My immediate family are not exchanging gifts

until my birthday,

this Wednesday.

We will celebrate my sister Rebecca's birthday as well,

especially as it was a significant birthday for her

she is now 30.

I am thankful to be able to be home.
The insomnia should subside by the end of the week,
as I am almost done taking the medicine
that is causing it.
I am hoping that I can regain strength
and courage
that I will need for returning to Ottawa and job searching.
Meanwhile, I need to live in the present and rest.
Enjoy seeing my family.
Eating my Mother's food;
and taking time to rest from all that has gone before.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

(My parent's Nativity Set)


Christ is born! Glorify Him!


My church here had Christmas Liturgy tonight

after Matins.

So beautiful.

The hymns of Christmas...


I got to see my Godmother

and many familiar faces;

they are good to me here,

even though it has been 6 years since I lived here

and was chrismated...

Tomorrow will be my extended family

Christmas day.

Praying very much for
Kh. Ramia and Fr. Anthony
and all those who are in loss this Christmas;
May Christ and His Virgin Mother the Theotokos
bring comfort through their intercessions.

Christmas Eve Day

News of young Noah needing prayer -

he has collapsed suddenly...

I learned of Noah and his family through Mat. Anna;

this family has been through a lot of struggles lately;

will be good to cover them with prayer.

My sister Rebecca and my brother-in-law Mark

made it home on time yesterday!

What a blessing, considering the mess

London airports have been in.

It is good to have them home.

Liturgically I will be on the New Calendar
until I return to Ottawa
God willing January 5th;
with Christmas Eve being January 6th.
Tonight will be my Christmas Matins and Liturgy
at the church I was chrismated in;
it is always good to worship with them again.
May Christ be born again in our hearts
as we approach His manger
and His humble birth.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas time and grief

Christmas time is often
pain such as losing a beloved child
such as Lucia;
the last time I saw Kh. Ramia she was beautifully
pregnant with Lucia.
To lose such a daughter is heartbreaking.
I think also of the woman in my parish
who lost both parents
41 days apart
and could not go to the funerals;
how we did services for them at my church,
how the woman brought different breads,
we sang,
held the candles,
and loved her.
Thank God that we have the church and prayers therein
to help sustain us through the dark valleys of grief.
Christ is with us in these times,
Christ wept at the death of Lazarus.

(The priest says:)

May Christ our true God, who rose from the dead and as immortal

King has authority over the living and the dead, have mercy on us and save us,

through the intercessions of his spotless holy Mother; of the holy, glorious,

and praiseworthy Apostles; of our venerable and God-bearing Fathers; of the

holy and glorious forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; of his holy

and righteous friend Lazarus, who lay in the grave four days;

and of all the Saints, establish the soul of His servant (name) departed from us,

in the dwelling place of the Saints; grant rest to him (her) in the

bosom of Abraham and number him (her) among the righteous.

- from the Trisagion Service by Holy Cross Orthodox Press

Prayer to the Mother of God
O Most Holy Lady Virgin Theotokos, do Thou save and preserve
under Thy protection my children (names), all youths and infants,
baptized and unnamed, and those in their mothers wombs.
Cover them with Thy maternal garment, preserve them in
the fear of God and in obedience to their parents.
Entreat my Lord and Thy Son that He may give them what is
profitable for their salvation. I entrust them to Thy maternal care,
for Thou are a Divine protection for Thy servants.
- prayer written at the back of the small pamphlet,
May God be near to all those for whom the
Christmas holidays
are also a time of loss and grief.
Christ has come on Christmas Day
so that He could destroy death by death.
May His Resurrection comfort and give courage
to us!

Memorial Dish - Kolivo (Part 2)

Once the Wheat berry is boiled,

spread it out on clean towels.

My Bulgarian friend explained to me:

In a separate place crush up (triturate) some biscuits/cookies/crackers (they should be lenten now). If you don’t have biscuits/cookies/crackers you can put hard-baked flour ( put one cup flour in a pan an put it on the hot-plate, stir it without interruption until the flour becomes brown).
Mix well the boiled and dried jito with the biscuit’s powder.

I put raisins in,

and plumped them a little bit by pouring some boiling water

over them in a pan.

Watch them that you do not over cook them;

the raisins do not have to be in the water more than 5 - 10 minutes.

I made some hard baked flour

as I did not have cookies;

there is a biscuit called Marie Biscuit

that another Bulgarian uses to sweeten the Kolivo.


My friend continues:

Put the mix in a bowl and before living for the church cover it with powder sugar (otherwise the powder sugar will melt quickly and wll wet the jito).

On the top of the powder sugar you can put some decoration like a Cross or something else, also you can put some walnuts. The nuts you can put also in the jito/biscuit mix.


I chose to go without nuts so that I could give out the Kolivo without worry

of anyone having allergies to nuts.


After the service,

I cut up the bread

and put the Kovlivo in disposable cups with spoons

and handed them out.


Bulgarians have the priest pour a little bit of red wine

in the bread

(or the Kolivo if the bread is not able to be used).


You hand the food to the people attending in memory of

your beloved one

and traditionally the response of the person receiving the food is

to the effect of

May God forgive them.

O Thou Who savest fallen Adam and the whole human race from
eternal perdition, O Good One, Thou didst sent Thy Son
into the world, by Whose Cross and Resurrection life eternal hath
dawned on us. Trusting in Thine infinite compassion, we look
for the incorruptible kingdom of Thy glory, we implore Thee to grant
it to our departed loved ones, and we pray Thee:
O Lord, gladden the souls wearied by the storms of life, that they may
forget earthly sorrows and sighings; do Thou harken unto them
in Thy bosom, as a mother hearth her children, and say to them:
Your sins are forgiven you. O Lord,
receive them into Thy blessed, calm haven, open to them the palaces
of the angles and saints, that they may rejoice in Thy divine glory.
O Lord of unutterable love, remember Thy servants
who have fallen asleep!
- Ekos 1 of the Akathist for the Repose of the Departed
from the Book of Akathists Vol 1
published by Holy Trinity Monastery,
Jordonville NY, 1994.
May Lucia's Memory be Eternal!

Memorial Wheat Dish - Kolivo

To make the Kolivo

you can use either Pearl Wheat or Soft Wheat.


My Bulgarian friend uses Pearl Wheat and I used this as well.

The difference is that Pearl Wheat cooks up in a matter of 10 to 15 minutes

while Soft Wheat you boil and leave simmer for much longer.


Another word for Kolivio is "Jito" --

here is the recipe that my Bulgarian friend passed on to me:


I will call the boiled wheat “Jito”:

Put 1/3 or 1/2 (or the whole package, it depends how much you need, I put usually max 1/2 package) of the Jito’s package into a cold water (the water should cover the jito) and boiled it for about 10 min. When jito is ready the grains must be soft but in their shape. You can try the readiness when you chew it up, then the grain should be soft but not like a mess but a little bit hard. Be careful because if it become very, very soft, it will be like a mess and that is not good.

That’s why try the readiness often and ALMOST ALL THE TIME STIR !! IF THE WATER BECOMES LESS PUT MORE. When you decide that the jito is boiled then drain it and put it on a piece of cloth/towel to dry for a while.

I used a large pot to boil the Pearl Wheat in.

I spread out two tea towels on baking sheets

for the Wheat berry to be spread out to dry

(this is a part which you have to watch the timing,

so that it does not become too dried out).

I soon understood why my friend empathized
having water to cover the Pearl Wheat,
as it quickly soaked up water
as it boiled.
The next post will explain the rest of how to make this dish.
The wheat is used to remind us of the Resurrection
and it is in Christ that we look to
in these times of grief
and preparation....

Memorial Bread

Beautiful newly departed Lucia
I know is on many of our hearts and minds
today as we learned of her
I have been planning on telling everyone
about the bread and kolivo
that I used for the panakyda
for my spiritual mother

and thought that to honour Lucia
I would share
the recipes from two women in my parish,
one is Bulgarian, one is Ukrainian.
Part of grief for us as Orthodox Christians
is the in preparing these dishes.
I cannot tell you how important and comforting
it is for Orthodox Christians to do these things;
I see it very much in my church.
So with love for Lucia
and her beautiful grieving parents,
I am going to give you the bread recipes
I was given.
My Bulgarian friend and I emailed extensively one day
for both the bread and kolivo recipes.
In my next post I will explain how to make the kolivo,
which is beautiful and a bit more involved.

Bread 1

2 cups regular yougurt (for the Lent you can put instead of yougurt water)
2 cups flour
2 soup spoons oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 soup spoon baking powder

Mix with the mixer . If the mix is too thin, put more flour, or if it too thick, put more water. Put on the top walnuts. Bake.


Bread 2

1 coffee spoons salt
600 grams water
2 soup spoons yeast (as a powder)

Warm the water. Mix the baking powder with the flour and put it little by little in the water, add more flour until you get a dough. Knead it for a while. Then leave the dough for a while, it have to grow (if it possible leave it in a warm place, close to the oven, or on the stove). Then take a dish and spread an oil on the bottom, put it the dough in it and bake it. You can make a Cross or, flowers or other figures from the dough for decoration.


In these books usually they put many ingredients but for Lenten bread/dough I put only flour, salt, water, yeast. For my bread maker I put 1 1/3 cups water, 1 tea spoon salt, 1-2 soup spoons oil, 1 tea spoon sugar and 3 1/3 cups flour. The flour must totally cover the water. On the top of the flower is the yeast-2 tea spoons. Then I put the bread maker on dough and after 2 hours it is ready. But I leave it for 30 min. more in the machine to relax and grow. Then again needs to be knead it, and then make it in the shape that you want and again leave it for a while (around 1 hr) for growing. Bake it.

I don't now your machine how big is, that's why use your instructions! If you don't have one for dough just follow these for a regular white bread, ignore the milk and eggs, and put only water, salt,
sugar, oil, flour, yeast, AND PUT THE MACHINE ON 'DOUGH'' INSTEAD OF ''BREAD''. And this is it.

After the dough was made
(I had to mix a little bit of the flour that did not get mixed by my
bread machine)
I kneaded it in my hands,
punched it a bit
and let it sit to rise,
putting a clean tea table cloth on top while it rose.
After it had doubled
I kneaded / punched it again
and let it rise,
again putting the tea towel over it.
Then I molded it into a small mound,
took a little bit of the dough off the side to
make the Cross
and let it sit for a little bit
before putting it in the oven.
I think I baked it around
370 degrees
for about 30 minutes;
when it was slightly golden and smelled
wonderfully of bread
I took it out and immediately
(I used my hands as I did not have a brush)
put olive oil over the top of the bread
and it turned a beautiful golden colour
within seconds.
Once it was cooled
I covered it with the cloth again
(wrapping it lightly)
before bringing it to church the next day
for the service.

Among the spirits of the righteous perfected in faith,
give rest, O Savior, to the soul of your servant.
Bestow upon it the blessed life which is from You,
O loving Lord.
Within your peace, O Lord, where all Your Saints repose,
give rest also to the soul of Your servant,
for You alone Immortal.
- From the Trisagion Service,
published by Holy Cross Orthodox Press

Memory Eternal!

With tears and a heavy heart,
I must tell you that
Kh. Ramia and Fr. Anthony's
beautiful daughter Lucia
Memory Eternal!
Let us keep Kh. Ramia and Fr. Anthony
in our prayers especially at this time.
Lucia touched all of us
and truly is a child of light.

Hopeful Morning!

We looked up my sister's flight on British Air:

The flight says "departed"

so they should be in the air to Chicago right now!!


My parents and I are enjoying time this morning;

I continue to enjoy my Dad's teasing;

he said if I tried to reassure you all that he gives hugs

that I would merely make him look worse :)

Lots of laughter here...

They wish they could adopt my friends who need

more TLC at Christmas...

I am very blessed.

God willing I will see my sister soon!
Very excited.
These are my new slippers from my Oma;
she does such fine work
and she is 101!
She knit the white socks too.
She turns 102 tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, Clear and Cool

Today I would say is the first day

I really rested...

(Perhaps this is ironic as most people are so busy

at this time of year!)

I am fighting a cold but am feeling pretty good over all,

just a bit exhausted from the insomnia...


I took a short walk late in the afternoon;

I love the stark beauty of winter here in Michigan.

Beauty can be seen every where;

I think it is that we just need to have our eyes opened...

Beauty opens to us more and more

as we seek God and cultivate a thankful heart...

I was able to get a hold of the dermatologist today

about the medical tests I had;

still waiting on the X-Ray

(most likely will not know about this one until

after Christmas);

so the tests so far are good -

have to recheck one thing in about a month

to be sure,

but the initial news is good.

So this is a relief.

I will be glad, however,

when I have the final tests in a month to be sure.

Tomorrow I hope to make some
simple Christmas things.
We are praying that Rebecca (my sister) and Mark (bro-in-law)
make it home tomorrow from London;
sounds like they had a good day today and
we are happy that they made it to London!
They are due in tomorrow just before 7 pm;
I am full of anticipation of their arrival.
Fitting: anticipation:
we are waiting the New Born King
the most waited for of all.
Praying that God will be near all of us in these times;
holidays are joyful but often also painful for
God is near the brokenhearted,
and He will never abandon His children.
Let us keep our courage and hope.

In London!

Rebecca and Mark made it to London!

They are praying that their flights out

from London tomorrow

will go as scheduled.


Originally they were to do the whole trip tomorrow

but their flight into London from Bucharest was



Please pray that they can come tomorrow!

I thank God they have at least made it to London today!

I rarely get to see birds from my apartment in Ottawa.


This morning is a beautiful morning at my parent's house!

In other news,
yesterday afternoon I had an unexpected phone call
on my cell phone.
I had an impromptu interview for a good librarian job in Ottawa
that I applied for in early November!
Considering the interview was totally unexpected,
I did fairly well.
They said they would be interviewing in early January
and if I did not hear from them by mid-January
to give them a call.
So another thing to hope and pray for!
This is a job in my field, in Ottawa,
the city I love...
Meanwhile, I hope that Rebecca and Mark can be here
for Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Praying Rebecca and Mark Home for Christmas

As many know Europe has had a lot of snow lately,
which has caused a lot of airport problems
for many many people.
were to fly out on the 23rd from Bucharest
to London,
London to Chicago...
Their plane ticket from Bucharest was cancelled
but the flights from London and on are still booked.
They hope to catch a flight tomorrow morning
in hopes of flying out from London on
Thursday as scheduled.
They will be going to the airport at 4:30 AM with this hope.
Please if you would pray for them.
They know that they could either
a) not get a flight out of Romania to London
b) get stuck in London
but I am sure you all understand that they want to be home with
our family for Christmas and
so they are doing what they can to get home.
Thanks for your prayers!
Here's to hoping...

The Martinitoren

Remember when I wrote about my Aunt and Uncle's house
and then how we found out that it was spared.
My Opa and Oma have 8 children
and my Opa
(who lived to be 91)
made 9 of these -
one for each child
and one for his beloved wife, my Oma.
They are very detailed and intricate -
much careful work went in to them.
My Mom,
when I asked her if I could show my blog community Opa's work,
said of course
and so I am showing you now.
These are some of the real treasures of our family;
I spent a good bit of time today
photographing the various things that
make up the stories of my family
and express the Dutch culture that we are from.

My Opa's Martinitoren.

My Oma and Opa lived in Groningen

before they immigrated from Holland to Canada

after World War II.


Many people from Holland immigrated to Canada

after the war.


My Opa was a Sargent in the war

and God preserved his life during this time.

My Opa
years ago also did wood working;
this is a spoon rack that he made.
My Mom has had it in our house for many years.
Having been Orthodox for a few years now
and being in houses of immigrants from
Slavic countries
has made me more aware of the importance of the items
that make up one's culture and story.
The beauty, intricacy and insistence on good craftsmanship
(if my Opa's work had a flaw he would start over;
this commitment to beauty is hard to find now)
is important for us to see.
When I think of my family
and see all the beautiful family things
I am overwhelmed by the riches of it all.
It is so good to be awake to what God has given;
it is too easy to fail to see it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Home with my parents and the Christmas tree!

One of our Canadian relatives gave this to us

some time back.


Too funny and cute, hey?


as you may have guessed:

I'm home!

Flights were fine, only half hour delay.


So good to be at home,

with my parents,

wearing new slippers from my Oma... of the last new pairs I will ever have,

hard to believe this but she will be

102 years old

this Friday

(new calendar)

Christmas Eve.


Tomorrow I get to rest.


Okay, I am also going to do

at least a little job searching

but will rest too!!

This is one of our Christmas tree's

older ornaments,

always liked it...

A little blurry but Cleo would love
this mouse...
my Aunt made them out of felt
when I was still a kid.
I am going to savour every minute of being home.
My Dad is already teasing me...
(only one hug a day Elizabeth,
like vitamins)
It is still hard to believe I made it;
Thank God for His mercy.

Flying Home!

Cleo is so funny!

When ever I refill her glass jar of food

she wants to eat right out of the jar,

instead of her bowl!

I hugged her goodbye and

reassured her that she will be visited by

our loving friends

every day.


Always hard to leave her but harder for her.

Poor Cleo Cat.

But she will have company daily so she is pretty lucky...

The monastery cats -

thought another two shots of them would be fun to show.

I am in the airport
(free wifi)
and will be boarding soon.
I did another job application.
God is good to us.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

St. Nicholas Day

The Saint Nicholas Cakes were a hit :)


St. Nicholas Day is one of my favourite days of the year.


My church had a festive meal and it was very joyful.

Here's a picture of the other monastery cat!

Look at all that snow...

This is an icon of St. Nectarios in the monastery chapel;
Some of my close friends and I especially look to his prayers
for healing.
Every day I hear of more people who are ill.
So much need.
But our God is merciful and compassionate
and so we keep praying
as we are able.
I am so glad that there are monasteries.
I know my prayers are not what I wish them to be
so the fact that I can ask monastics for prayers
for others and for myself, my family, etc
is a great encouragement.
Tomorrow morning I have to do a resume for a good part time job
that is due tomorrow.
I fly home tomorrow afternoon.
Please pray for my flight
and that I do not come down with a cold.
I know I am physically exhausted due to the insomnia
I have currently and feel on that
verge between sickness and health.
I am so glad to be going home and that I can rest there.
God willing December 23rd.
Please pray that their flights go smoothly and that
they can get home in time for Christmas!
I thank God for my sister - especially today as it is her birthday!!
Thank you for your prayers.
I thank God for His mercy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Saturday Filled with God's Mercy

Today was full of God's mercy and goodness.

The Virgin Mary Consoler

is such a wonderful monastery.


I was able to briefly speak with the Abbess there

and was very blessed.


God continues to pour out His mercy.

Here is one of the two cats that were at the monastery!

So cute.


Being able to be in the monastery chapel

and with other pilgrims was so beautiful.

There was a baptism there today as well
and the monastery not only served our group lunch
but later the whole group in for the baptism.
I thought the food,
with the festive cross on the
Lenten pasta
was beautiful.
Monastics sure know how to make Lenten food
into a feast!
And my heart continued to be gladdened
when I walked into my church for vespers
and there was the icon of St. Nicholas.
Oh Father Nicholas the Saintly,
how we love you!