Posted by: sailingmartha | December 20, 2013

Beeswax and honey crafting

Lately I’ve been trying some new things – some more successful than others. It started earlier this year when I volunteered to lead a 4-H project on honeybees. I only know a little about them and have never kept beehives, although someday I would like to, but I figured I knew enough and could learn enough to make the project interesting and fun. I didn’t want it to be a pure science project because we have already had several entomology projects, and I wanted to add in some hands-on things that the kids would enjoy and maybe want to reproduce on their own sometime. So, Bee-ology was born.

My first experiment was with crafting some beeswax lip balm. What I learned is that there is a bit of an initial investment cost-wise, but the technique itself is so simple that you will never want to buy lip balm again. Basically you need beeswax, some carrier oil (I used sweet almond oil), some vitamin E oil, some essential oils of your choice, and some lip balm tubes or containers. You will also need a double boiler of some sort to melt your beeswax in. You combine your beeswax and carrier oil in your double boiler and heat until the beeswax is melted, stir in a few drops of vitamin E oil as a natural preservative, and then add in your essential oil(s). Pour into your containers and let harden. That’s it! One word of caution: avoid citrus essential oils as they can cause photosensitivity.  I used lemongrass oil and it gave it a nice lemony scent without the worries of photosensitivity. I also made some wintergreen scented lip balm, and it is fabulous. The one combo I tried and did not like was geranium and lemongrass. The geranium is too overwhelming and I did not like the end result at all. Also, with the first batch I made, I used a recipe that called for adding honey to the lip balm for flavor, but this didn’t work. The honey did not dissolve into the beeswax solution and tended to settle which is why my first batch has a dark line at the bottom. I left the honey out of the succeeding batches. It really didn’t add any flavor that I could tell. I also made a peppermint chocolate lip balm with peppermint oil and cocoa absolute oil. It smells really good, too, but didn’t turn out quite strong enough, in my opinion.

First batch of lip balm

First batch of lip balm

Our second project with beeswax involved making hand-molded candles. It was fun but kind of messy. I wasn’t thrilled with how mine turned out, probably because I am not at all artistic, but it was still a fun process. We’re going to try these again in the future using silicone or rubber molds. The kids did enjoy the creativity of molding and playing with the beeswax.

Next I tried making honey lollipops. These were better in theory than in actuality. You take honey and boil it until it reaches hard crack stage (300 degrees F), then pour it over sticks and let it harden. Simple, right? The first batch I made at home looked good. I learned you need to tape the sticks down with Scotch tape first so they don’t roll when you pour the honey syrup over them. I also learned that freezer paper does not make a good material on which to pour your syrup. My lollipops looked great until I tried to remove them, and they were all stuck to the paper. Ugh. So that batch ended up in the trash. I had to run out and buy a bunch of silicone baking sheets before we made these at 4-H.

Honey syrup boiling over!

Honey syrup boiling over!

Pouring the lollipops

Pouring the lollipops

So when we made them in class, they turned out pretty well. We also learned that you cannot stack them or let them touch each other as they will immediately stick together and can’t be pulled apart. We wrapped them individually in little plastic treat bags and tied them with metallic ties. Again, tricky because they want to stick to the bags.  The pure honey is just too sticky/hydrophilic and doesn’t make for a pleasant experience with packaging. The honey also tended to taste/smell a tad burned when cooked to 300 degrees. I tried making a batch at home and cooking them to just slightly under that, but they turned out too soft and didn’t harden as much as they should have. Overall, these weren’t bad but they weren’t good enough to make me want to try them again. My conclusion is that I will try these again sometime with a recipe that uses part granulated sugar and part honey (arrgh, this is formatting strangely, sorry!)

The next project was one I did today, making solid perfume pastilles. I combined beeswax, sweet almond oil, and essential oils to make the perfume. For this batch, I used grapefruit oil, clary sage oil, and white ginger fragrance oil. I really like this combination. I melted the beeswax with the almond oil, and then stirred in my essential oils. I then poured it into small 5 gram clear plastic containers and let it harden. These will be Christmas gifts for my family, along with some of the lip balm I made. The perfume pastilles were very easy to make. The difficulty is knowing what oils combine together nicely to make a pleasant fragrance. The original recipe I was working from called for grapefruit, clary sage, juniper, and fir needle. When I went to the store, however, they did not have fir needle or juniper, so I chose white ginger instead. I think the combo is really nice, although the ginger may be too strong. So far I haven’t had a chance to try it on anyone else yet to get their opinion.  I’d like to try making more of these in different fragrances when I get a chance. I like to smell the oils in person, which is why I’ve been hesitant to buy them online, but there seems to be less of a variety in the stores than there is online. I did find some fir needle at a different store and liked the smell, so I will go back and get some of that later.

So that is my crafting post. Note: Click on the pictures to embiggen them. It’s really hard to see them clearly otherwise.

Melting beeswax for perfume

Melting beeswax for perfume

Finished perfume pastilles

Finished perfume pastilles

Posted by: sailingmartha | December 3, 2013


Yikes, I have not touched this blog in a donkey’s age. Life seems to interfere somehow. Anyway, now that we are in Advent, it seemed like a good time to regroup and write down a bit of what we’ve been doing.

Because the rest of the family is Catholic, I tend to celebrate a hybrid-type Advent. I follow the Orthodox fasting guidelines (how well, I won’t say), and try to get to church services when they’re offered. At home, I teach Advent mainly from the Catholic perspective. We have the traditional 4-candle Advent wreath, and I use various books and/or DVDs every year for our readings. This year, the books I am reading with the kids are: Celebrate Jesus! At Christmas: Family Devotions for Advent through Epiphany by Kimberly Ingalls Reese (includes Scripture readings, lesson, song, activities, and prayers that center around the Advent wreath), and Making Room for Christmas: Preparing a Place for the Christ Child by Herbert Brokering. Making Room is based on the Latin American tradition of Las Posadas – the journey of Mary and Joseph to find shelter for Jesus to be born. It has a reading, a dialogue actually, for each day, set in contemporary times, where Mary and Joseph visit a different place – a farm house, a halfway house, an army barracks, a prison, a hospital, a day care center – and the reactions of the various inhabitants to their plea for shelter. It is a very interesting and  unique take on Advent readings.

Speaking of Las Posadas, the Catholic retreat center near us hosts one every year, and the public is invited. We have gone for the last several years. My husband and sons help with the music. It is a really fun experience. We all gather together and practice the song first, in both Spanish and English. Two children dress as Mary and Joseph. We all process around the grounds of the center, knocking at various doors, and asking (singing) to be let in. The “innkeeper” sends us away each time, until we get to the final door, where we are welcomed in. We then eat cookies and cake and drink hot cider, and sing Christmas carols. Then there are always two pinatas for the kids to break – they love that!

One more book I am reading this year to the kids is The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean. I LOVE this book! It tells about the Jesse Tree in the form of a story between an old cranky wood carver and a young curious boy. It is just a lovely book and the art work is wonderful too. It manages to be reverent while still slyly funny.

For my own Advent reading, I am using A Child in Winter: Advent, Christmas and Epiphany with Caryll Houselander. OK, so she was Catholic, not Orthodox, but I love her writings and this book is fantastic. She has such a mystical, poetic yet direct way of writing that speaks to my soul. These little meditations make this season come alive for me.

St. Nicholas’ feast day is coming up very shortly. We are having a service on Thursday evening (not Friday, thankfully, since we will be out of town) followed by a potluck. I am definitely looking forward to attending. We have never celebrated St. Nicholas Day at home, which I feel kind of badly about. I did buy a sweet little St. Nicholas doll figurine and I have him standing by our Advent wreath. Next year I hope to get his icon and hang it in my icon corner.

So, that is about it for the moment. I will be writing more soon about some new things I’ve been doing, just for fun.

Posted by: sailingmartha | April 15, 2013

Pro-life essay and a proud mama’s heart

My 15 year old son recently entered an essay contest that was sponsored by the Pro-Life Center here in town and the Catholic diocese. There were two grade categories, 7th to 9th graders, and 10th to 12th graders, and the topic was “What would you tell a friend who asks you why you are pro-life?”  I’m happy and proud to say that my son won 3rd place in the 10th to 12th grade category. He won $50 cash, plus ice cream gift certificates, a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, and an award certificate. He will also have his essay published in the diocesan magazine and be a guest on the local Catholic radio program. There were 160 entries, so I think he did pretty well! He was the only homeschool winner as well. I’m copying his essay below for anyone who is interested in reading it.

“HatGuy”‘s Pro-Life Essay

I held my breath; it was a strange question. We had been playing games all night…sure, I had just come home from the Walk for Life, but it still seemed out of the blue. It was a question that I hadn’t thought much about. Thinking back, I never really knew “why”. It just seemed natural, a thing any human would agree on. And yet, many people argue and bicker over who is right and wrong, and some try to justify the reasons they give with violence and lies. Some say we should be pro-life because God says we must respect all human life. Others, who do not believe, say right and wrong is of our own moral reasoning. And still others believe that before we are truly born that we should be treated as a human. Some have said it is the woman who should choose what will happen to the baby;  they say if she does not want the baby, or if it is “defective’” that she should remove it from her womb. As I sat there, I was asked again: “Why are you Pro-Life?”. The question stung like a hornet in my heart. I breathed in deep, thinking that question over and over, “Why? Why was I Pro-Life? What reasons did I have to think that I should defend the few, tiny, human embryos that couldn’t even talk?” The answer was slow to come into my mind, but finally, I said: “We are all different. No person really has the right to choose whether or not someone lives or dies. So I think the answer should be what the baby would want. And I think it would be very happy if it could see its mother’s face. I know I was.” And I felt a little warmer inside my heart.

Posted by: sailingmartha | May 1, 2012

Disneyland, Part 2

We were able to meet a lot of characters, which Fifibelle really got into. Here’s the complete list of all the ones we got to meet:

Chip and Dale

Mr. and Mrs. Incredible

Snow White


Minnie Mouse

Mickey Mouse

Donald Duck

Fairy Godmother

Suzy (mouse from Cinderella)










Handy Manny

Dug (dog from Up)

Other characters we saw passing by, but didn’t actually meet: Peter Pan, Alice, Mad Hatter, Ariel, Mary Poppins and Bert, Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

Places we ate:

Monday we ate lunch at the Village Haus in Fantasyland. Fifibelle had a kids’ meal with macaroni and cheese and apple slices. The food was OK but not a very big portion for the price. I had the apple cheddar salad, which was mixed baby greens with diced apples, dried cranberries, golden raisins, chopped walnuts, and cheese cubes with a yogurt dressing. It was very good, and quite big – I couldn’t finish it all.

Monday dinner – we got clam chowder in bread bowls at the Royal Veranda in New Orleans Square. Good, and filling, and OK portions for the price.

Tuesday lunch – we ate at the Troubadour Tavern next to Fantasy Faire in Fantasyland – it’s just across from the train station. I had a baked potato with butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon bits, and chives. It was delicious, and a good value. Fifibelle had corn on the cob. Kind of expensive for what you get, but still relatively cheap compared to most of the kids’ meals, and it made her happy.

Tuesday dinner – we ate over in California Adventure. I got broccoli-cheese soup in a bread bowl from Pacific Wharf Cafe. Very good, I liked it better than the clam chowder even, plus it really hit the spot on a cool, breezy evening. Fifibelle got the kids’ bean and cheese burrito with a side of rice and a side of Mandarin oranges from the Cocina Cucamonga. This was a pretty good deal, and she really liked it.

Wednesday lunch – same as Tuesday’s. Wednesday dinner we were back at DCA. I got a kefta skewer from Paradise Garden Grill (who knew you could get kefta at Disneyland?) For the uninitiated, kefta is seasoned ground beef formed into football-shaped patties. Anyway, my meal came with a skewer of kefta with a turmeric-yogurt sauce on a bed of rice pilaf, with a side of cucumber salad and a nice warm, chewy “pita” bread (really a naan). It was very tasty, if not the most authentic I’ve ever had, and a real bargain for the price. It was also served on real plates with real silverware, very nice for a counter-service restaurant. The other choices of skewers were grilled steak, lemon-oregano chicken, and tofu-vegetable, with a choice of four different sauces.

Fifibelle had a kids’ meal from Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta – pasta with alfredo sauce and side of mini carrots and a side of apple slices. Portion size was pretty good, and again, she enjoyed it. The flatbread pizza there looked really yummy but I didn’t get a chance to try any.

Snacks we ate – Dole whips from the Tiki Juice Bar near the Enchanted Tiki Room. Fifibelle tried this for the first time and loved it. She got another one the second day. I got an iced mocha from the coffee stand near the central hub – it was good, and the price wasn’t much more than you’d pay at Starbucks. We also got a hot fudge sundae at the Golden Horseshoe while we watched the show. Otherwise we ate the snacks we brought with us – goldfish crackers, gummy fruit snacks, ring pops 🙂 I was really hoping to eat lunch one day at the Blue Bayou, but since we were on a tight food budget, we skipped it.

We had a terrific time, and really experienced the two parks to the max. I’m so glad we got to go, and I can’t wait to go back.

Posted by: sailingmartha | April 28, 2012


We got back from Disneyland two days ago. It was just myself and my youngest daughter, Fifibelle (9). We drove down to southern California and stayed with David’s cousin and her family in Pomona. DD and I got to go Disneyland and California Adventure for 3 days. We had so much fun. It was the least crowded time I’ve ever been there, and the lines for almost everything were short to non-existent.

We started off on Peter Pan’s Flight, which had about a 30 minute line. This was the one ride at Disneyland, other than Finding Nemo, that consistently had a line. Fifibelle loved Peter Pan. It ended up being her favorite ride, and we went on it at least 3 times during our trip. We then visited the goats and donkeys in the petting zoo at Big Thunder Ranch, which were cute. Then Fifibelle saw Big Thunder Mountain and immediately insisted on going on it. I was kind of hesitant because I didn’t think it was the type of ride she would like. However, when her sister went to Disneyland last year, BTMRR was her favorite ride, so of course, Fifibelle wanted to check it out. We went on it, but she was clutching on to me for dear life the whole time, saying she was going to die. LOL. Poor kid. She hated it.

We went on the Jungle Cruise, Tarzan’s Treehouse, the Enchanted Tiki Room (another huge hit), Pirates of the Caribbean (so fun, another favorite), Haunted Mansion (she didn’t like this one so much). We also went on the Disneyland Railroad around the park, and on the Monorail. We also went on the Mark Twain Riverboat. Fifibelle had gone on it when she was 3 years old, and it was the only thing she remembered from that previous trip. We did Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and Star Tours. Star Tours was fun – last time I went it was under refurb, and now it has the new 3-D effects. Very cool. We also saw Captain EO – I hadn’t seen that in years, so it was a fun blast from the past We rode It’s a Small World, and we saw the Magic, Memories, and You light show in front of IASW.

Tuesday morning we started off in California Adventure – we ran over and got Fastpasses for World of Color first thing. We went on Soarin’ Over California (love, love, love this) and then It’s Tough to be a Bug 3-D movie, which unfortunately she hated. She wasn’t screaming or crying, but she was grossed out and mad at me for taking her to it. There were a lot of little kids that were hysterically afraid, though. I felt bad for them. We went over to the Sorcerer’s Workshop, and played with the zoetropes and made our own animation strips, then we went to Ursula’s Grotto and put our voices in the movie clip – I loved it but Fifibelle was a little shy. Then we went to the Beast’s Library, and did the character quiz, which was cute. Also in DCA, we saw some characters and got some autographs – from Mr. and Mrs. Incredible (cool!), aviator Minnie Mouse, and Chip and Dale (so freakin’ adorable!). Fifibelle wanted to go back over to DL after that, and finish the rides that we didn’t go on the day before, so we went back and rode the rest of the rides in Fantasyland – the King Arthur Carousel, Dumbo, Casey Jr. train, Storybook Land Canal Boats, Pinocchio, and Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle as well as the Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh, and Indiana Jones. We met more characters – Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Pluto, and Snow White. We also saw the Laughing Stock Co. at the Golden Horseshoe – that was the first time I’d been in there to see a show, and it was a lot of fun. We spend a little time at Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island. We went back to DCA in the late afternoon and saw the last show of Aladdin at the Hyperion Theater, which was fabulous. Then we grabbed some dinner, and we managed to sneak into a good spot for World of Color. There were already a lot of people lined up to view it, but we got onto the bridge, and some nice people squeezed over and made some room for Fifibelle to get up to the rail, and I stood behind her. We had a great view, and Fifibelle absolutely loved it. She kept saying how beautiful it was and the best thing she’d ever seen, so that was nice. I liked it too.

Wednesday morning we started out at Disneyland. Fifibelle really wanted to meet Rapunzel, so we decided to go on a few rides, and then get in line at 10:30 for the 11:00 meet and greet with Rapunzel. So we rode on Peter Pan again, then the Tiki Room and Pirates of the Caribbean. After those, we got in line for Rapunzel – there were a few families ahead of us but we were pretty close to the front of the line. We also lucked out because we were under a little bridge in the shade, and the rest of the line was in the sun. We hung out in line and chatted with a few other folks and finally we got in to meet Rapunzel and get some pics and her autograph. After that we ate at Troubadour Tavern (yummy baked potatoes and corn on the cob), and then we lined up for meeting the princesses in the Fantasy Faire. That was about a 45 minute wait, but we ended up getting to see Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Belle, and Mulan, who were all super sweet and nice. We took the horse trolley up Main Street. Then we went back to DCA. We saw Turtle Talk with Crush, which was so cute. We went on Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue, and Muppet Vision 3-D, Soarin’ Over California again, then on Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, which was cute but just OK. Next we went on Toy Story Midway Mania. That was a great ride! So much fun. It was very popular and had a long line (relatively speaking) otherwise we would have gone again. Fifibelle then rode on King Triton’s Carousel several times. It’s a beautiful carousel with colorful sea creatures – whales, dolphins, sea otters, sea horses, fish, sea lions. This was another of her favorite rides. She also went on Jumpin’ Jellyfish – cute ride, but super short. We went to the Redwood Creek Trail – she loved this! I think she probably spent a good hour and a half there, just playing and running around. We met Dug the dog from the movie Up there – he was so fuzzy and cute! We ate dinner in Paradise Pier and got to hear a terrific musical group, the Sligo Rags, an Irish music group. We left DCA after that and went back to Disneyland for a bit. We visited Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (I think I was a little kid last time I saw it),  rode Indiana Jones, It’s a Small World, Casey Jr. train, and we met our last character, Goofy. Thus ended our trip to Disneyland and California Adventure! We had a marvelous time, and somehow managed to stay awake and keep plugging along the whole time without breaks.

We also had a fun time staying with Fred and her family – they were such gracious hosts and they put us up in style. I can’t wait to go back.

Posted by: sailingmartha | March 13, 2012

Pasta Salad Recipe

My favorite pasta salad – can be modified to make Lenten

1 lb. uncooked pasta (I liked rotini, orecchiette, or bowties)

2-3 stalks celery. thinly sliced

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 medium can sliced olives, drained

Provolone cheese, diced; or shaved parmesan, romano, and asiago blend (omit for Lent)


1/2 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil for Lent)

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tsp. dry mustard (or 1 tbsp. prepared mustard)

2 tsp. minced garlic




Cook pasta according to directions on package; drain and rinse with cold water. Mix together in large bowl the pasta, celery, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, olives, and cheese. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in medium bowl until thoroughly blended. Pour over pasta salad and mix gently. Chill for 1-2 hours before serving.

Posted by: sailingmartha | March 10, 2012

Life in the slow(er) lane

I had a lovely day today. The weather was gorgeous: blue, cloudless sky, mid-seventies, no wind. I took the kids to the Catholic retreat center to pray the Stations of the Cross (the kids are Catholic). The retreat center has a beautiful outdoor Way of the Cross, that we strolled through and enjoyed all the trees and flowering shrubs and stream and birds and squirrels. We also walked the labyrinth, which I always enjoy. It is a very centering experience for me and I received some good spiritual insights. Walking the labyrinth has so many parallels to my spiritual journey here on earth.

Afterwards, we went to lunch at Taco Bell, then we went to the Nature Center. There is a nice hands-on museum area, which currently has displays on wetlands and riparian areas, and it was quite interesting. We took a walk outside and saw several wild turkeys, and then a little herd of about six deer. They were very calm, and watched us for awhile, then went on with their grazing. A little later we saw another group of 3 or 4 deer, resting by a fallen log. We saw a pipevine swallowtail butterfly, and a bunch of hawks circling around overhead.

Then we headed to Target to buy a few things, came home and made a pasta salad for dinner, and then I went to church for the Akathist to the Theotokos. It was a nice service and we had a bigger crowd than usual. One of the ladies brought her cousin who is here visiting from Lebanon.

I was also so thankful today to find a new route to church. I usually dread going to church on a weekday evening because the traffic is so terrible. The church isn’t all that far from me, only 12 miles, and on Sunday mornings it’s a breeze, but on weekdays it is a nightmare. I have to psych myself up to make the drive. The two freeways I normally take are very heavily traveled and there are several tricky interchanges and merges. I see accidents and near-accidents constantly, and sometimes cars can be backed up for ages. I’ve tried a couple of other routes before, which involve cutting through downtown – less traffic but more stop lights, and one involves driving over a rilly rilly narrow 2-lane bridge which gives me the willies every time I cross it; the other involves making a left turn in front of 3 lanes of oncoming traffic with no stop – ick. So today I tried Googling for a different route and found one that is much much better. It avoids the 2 bad highways and downtown and takes me around the other direction, with only 1 minor merge. So praise the Lord and Google Maps, weekday trips to church should be much easier now.

Posted by: sailingmartha | February 20, 2012

Quick and easy cheese enchiladas

This is my quick and dirty cheese enchilada recipe. It is simple to make these using pre-shredded cheese, pre-sliced olives, and canned enchilada sauce. Makes enough for leftovers the next day.

You’ll need a skillet, several large baking pans, platter, paper towels, tongs.

48 corn tortillas, 6″

Vegetable oil

Large can green enchilada sauce (I don’t really have a favorite, I just use whatever is handy)

2 large cans red enchilada sauce

2-3 lbs shredded cheese (I like four-cheese Mexican blend, but cheddar or colby jack works fine too)

4 or so cans of sliced black olives, drained

Heat 1/4″ vegetable oil in skillet over med-high heat. Depending on the size of your skillet you may be able to fry 2-3 tortillas at a time. Add your tortillas to the hot oil, frying quickly on each side for approximately 5 seconds. Remove from skillet, shake oil off gently, place on platter with a layer of paper towel between each tortilla. Repeat until all tortillas are cooked, adding additional vegetable oil as needed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large baking pan, pour a thin layer of red enchilada sauce to coat the bottom. Take a tortilla, and working on a clean plate, put about 1/4 cup of shredded cheese on one end, top with several sliced olives, and drizzle a teaspoonful or so of green enchilada sauce over the cheese and olives. Roll up, starting from filled side, and place, seam side down, in baking pan. Repeat until pan is filled. Spoon more red and green enchilada sauce over the rolled enchiladas, and top with additional shredded cheese. Continue rolling enchiladas until all your tortillas are used. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until heated through. Serve with sour cream if desired. Don’t forget to eat all the cheese shreds and olives that fall out while you’re making them, mmm. Assign someone else to do the dishes.

Posted by: sailingmartha | September 22, 2011

Homeschooling and service

Does homeschooling teach kids to be more service-minded? I’m always leery about drawing general conclusions from the small samples of people I know. I know for certain that not all public school kids are selfish or all homeschool kids are saints. In my own family, we tend to be very active in volunteering and in ministry, it’s just something we do. The kids have grown up taking part in many different activities and ministries and it’s become second-nature for them to help out when and where needed. Homeschooling has given us the flexibility to do this, which I am very grateful for.

I’ve been mulling this topic over in my mind for the last 10 days or so. We recently had our church’s annual food festival, which is our big fundraiser for the year and requires a lot of help in various ways from the parishioners. The original plan for the teen group was for them to have a separate area of the festival, where they would sell hot dogs and sodas and have games and musical entertainment. The church was going to provide them with the food and game set-up and my husband and 2 oldest kids were going to do most of the music. The teens were going to be allowed to keep any money they made. Sounded like a good deal to me. When the teens met with their leader, they agreed on this plan, but a few days later, they told the leader that they had decided they didn’t want to do it because they didn’t think it would be successful, and they thought if people drove by the church and saw the teens out in front with their area, they would think that was all that was to the festival and keep on driving. They still said they would sell hot dogs and have games in the main festival area. My kids were not involved in the discussions but they had agreed to help out with the music and were planning what songs they would do.

A few days before the festival, I took the kids and we all went to the church to help prep the grounds. We planted flowers and watered and pruned, and we scrubbed dozens of chairs and tables. No one asked us to do it, but we knew it needed to be done, so we did it (on a 100 degree day, no less). We also baked cookies to sell and got assorted other things ready for the festival. The weekend of the festival we were all there bright and early to work. The other teens from the church? Nowhere in sight. What ended up happening was that my two boys took charge of the hot dog sales, and my two girls were helping me with my booth, selling things we had brought. There were no games, no kids’ activities, no effort from the other teens. Some of them did help out selling food in the main area, but most of the time they were hanging out and partying.

I was very disappointed in the lack of effort and cohesiveness. I kind of wanted to excuse them because I know they have school and sports, but then so do my kids – at least school and 4-H. In fact we had our big 4-H meeting the day before the festival, that required a ton of work on my kids’ parts as they are all officers and all involved in several projects. When I compare as a whole, the 4-H kids, who are all homeschooled, to the church kids, the 4-H kids are far more active in the community, and more helpful and service-minded, especially the teens. Not that the kids at my church aren’t great – they are, and I love them. They are fun to be around and they are willing for the most part. They just seem more easily distracted and less committed.

I brought up my disappointment at the parish council meeting a few days ago. I didn’t say anything about my kids working and the others not, but just that I had hoped the teens would follow through with their plans, and that they missed out on a chance to be visible to the community as a whole, plus they lost the opportunity to make some money. Several of the parish council members agreed with me, and we had a little discussion, but I don’t have high hopes for changes in the future.

I’m proud of my kids, proud of the way they’ve been raised so far. I love that they will help out with any project, and I love that they have good attitudes. I know I have a less than good attitude a lot of the time, so I guess I need to take a little lesson from them. Excelsior!

Posted by: sailingmartha | April 24, 2011

Red Easter Eggs

After quite a bit of trial and error, I think I have finally mastered the secret of dying red Easter eggs. I wanted eggs that were RED, not pink, and evenly colored. I went looking for Wilton red food coloring paste at Michael’s. They didn’t have paste, but they had red gel, so that’s what I bought. I got a small jar for $1.99. Now I noticed in some articles that I read, that people put the dye in the water while the eggs are boiling. I may try that next year. It’s probably a lot quicker to do them all at once, but I don’t know if you have as much control over the final outcome.

The biggest problem I had was the eggs cracking while they were cooking. Four cracked out the first dozen I boiled, one out of the second dozen. Disappointing. Anyway. I put a teaspoon or so of the gel in approximately a cup of water, and stirred it well. The gel doesn’t seem to want to dissolve in water, so I had to whisk it in. I also used red wine vinegar instead of the normal distilled white vinegar, about a tablespoon. Not sure how much difference this makes, but one article said to use it, so I did. Oh, I forgot to mention I used brown eggs. The first batch I made, I used white eggs, but I forgot to refrigerate them after I was done, and they got left out all night. Oops. Plus the dye job came out crappy*. Tossed those and started over. Brown eggs, water, food coloring gel, red wine vinegar, mugs. Put egg(s) in, let sit for 10 minutes or so, stir, check color, leave for another 5-10 minutes. Take eggs out, and voila, nice deep red even color. Dry immediately with soft towel. Do NOT let air dry as this will result in splotches and streaks, *SEE: first batch of eggs. After drying, take a paper towel with a little olive oil and polish eggs, wipe off excess. Gorgeous.

Now that I have the coloring technique down, I need to solve the cracking problem but I figure I have a whole year to practice :). Also, next year, I need to remember to buy my eggs early. I always forget to do this, and the fresh eggs are much more difficult to peel than the older eggs.

I will try to update this blog with some thoughts on Holy Week and Pascha later on this week.

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