Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Onion Skin Red Egg Dye

 I just realized the blog where I originally got my onion skin dye instructions is no more! Fortunately, I saved the instructions and will share them here for posterity with thanks to the Williams Family. 

Yellow Onion Skins Method 

Originally from: My additions in brackets.

Gather lots of yellow onion skins. [I actually keep a grocery sack in my pantry and collect them all year. Leave the sack open so they dry out and don't get moldy. If you don't have enough, buy a sack of onions and take all the skins off! That should be enough.] 

During Holy Week, a few days before Pascha [on Holy Thursday between morning Liturgy and evening Passion Gospels], stuff them into a pot and pour about 1.5 liters (or quarts - they are the same, pretty much) of water over them, plus one tablespoon of vinegar per cup of water. That is 4 tablespoons (or 1/4 cup) for a liter. I use white or pale vinegar. [Don't overdo the vinegar! It will break down the egg shell and make them look bad.]

It is important for all the onion skins to be submerged, but, at the same time, you don't want to dilute the dye by using too much water. So squish down the onion skins with a weighted plate. Bring this to a boil and then simmer for about a half hour. If, say, I had less than the desired about of onion skins, I might keep on simmering for longer, to extract as much color as possible from the skins. But, like I said, I usually have more than enough onion skins, so a half hour is enough to produce a deeply colored dye.

Cook the eggs at the same time as dying them. [I think you can take the skins out now, but I also think I've done it both ways.] If you want, you can hard-boil the eggs first, and then dye them (I don't know how much longer the dyeing would take without the heat, but probably not a significant amount of time). Certainly, that would be the way to go if you draw or write on them with wax before the dying process (to leave an imprint in the dye). Otherwise, the wax would melt off into the dye. 

My concluding remarks:

I usually make 40-50 eggs for our little parish, and the concern is to dye them without cracking. You can't pile them up or let the water boil too rapidly without risking cracking. I usually boil a single layer (12 or so) in the low-boiling dye for 8-10 minutes, repeating until I have enough.

One year I had a full gallon size bag of onion skins and doubled the recipe to make a very full pot. I don't think this is necessary since I don't like to layer the eggs while dying/cooking. Fewer skins will still go a long way. 

Someone told me to polish them with olive oil to make them pretty and shiny, and I like to do that. 

I keep them in a basket in the fridge until Holy Saturday morning, when I take them to the church and leave them in the fridge for the evening service. This natural dye won't bleed, if if they sweat in the fridge. Toward the end of the Liturgy I step out to get them and put them by the solea or take to an altar boy.


Sunday, March 7, 2021

Big List of Lent Printables

Here's a big list of my lenten printables, and a sneak peek at my new pascha basket cover design!

Great Lent Calendar and Lady Sarakosti

Great Lent Path

Lenten Memory Verse Garden

Lenten Memory Verse Tree

Simple Lenten Passports

Almsgiving Planning

Prayer of St. Ephrem

Great Canon of St. Andrew Coloring Pages

 Akathist Alphabet Printable

Life of St. Mary of Egypt Comic Coloring Page

Scriptures of Holy Week with Epitaphios (taking down from the cross) Coloring Page 

All the Holy Week Resources (with Holy Week Map, Holy Unction Scripture printable, 12 Gospels Orthros printable, Holy Friday coloring pages, Epitaphios Coloring page, and Easter Card printables)

Saturday, January 2, 2021

2021 Vasilopita

My children told me finding the coin in the vasilopita is a little stressful for them each year, so I decided to mix it up this time.  I chose 8 interesting coins, so that each of the 8 slices contains a unique one. This fits a little more nicely anyway with my favorite version of the St. Basil story - he redistributed wealth to all the poor through the bread.

So here is my weighty 2021 Vasilopita! 
Happy New Year, friends!

1/2 cup butter 
1 cup white sugar 
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
3 eggs 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 cup warm milk 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 
2 tablespoons blanched slivered almonds 
1 tablespoon white sugar 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a 8 inch round cake pan (I used a pie pan). Cream the butter and sugar together, then stir in the flour and mix until mealy. Add the eggs, baking powder and milk, mixing well. Then combine the lemon juice and baking soda, stir into the batter. Pour into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove and gently drop the coin in to the cake. Flip the cake out of a pan to a cooling rack. Cool for 10 minutes, then decorate with white sugar and almonds or whatever.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Righteous Tamar

 I'm researching St. Ephrem the Syrian's unique attention to Tamar in Genesis 38. In my writing, I noted hers isn't the kind of story we write Sunday school songs about - but if we did, we should try to convey the wonder & symmetry that St. Ephrem finds in her story.

So then of course, I felt compelled to write a child-friendly song drawn from his Hymn 9 on the Nativity. I just wrote new words for the Galician Carol, "We Learned for the Angel," which is about the greeting to Mary at the Annunciation. So you hear the familiar ring of "Rejoice, Mary, full of grace," which may be lazy, but also totally appropriate.

Anyway, please enjoy my geeking out over this redeemed story:

Rejoice, O Tamar,
Woman full of faith,
Our Lord has made you chaste.

You sat at the gate
And you stole life,
So you were not afraid.

Blessed Foremother of the Lord!
Blessed desire for the savior you bore!
Rejoice, O full of faith!

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

New Book: Darkness is As Light

I'm excited to share with you Darkness is as Light from Park End Books.  Twenty-two women authors (including me!) with a variety of writing styles contributed brief reflections on scripture related to personal experiences of struggle and perseverance. Many of the entries are raw, and I found myself taking deep breaths as a I related to their words. It has been a dark year, but Christ is with us even here and now, urging us ever onward. This isn't a devotional book full of answers, but it is full of brave and true women confronting the darkness while clinging to and wrestling with scripture. 

The book is organized into 9 weeks of devotionals, thematically arranged. Each week begins with a lovely gothic style illustration and a poem (especially feature the work of Allison Boyd Justus, who I dearly admire). It would make a lovely bedtime read (or morning, if you're one of those people!), especially suited to those in need of a light in the darkness. 

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.
            - Psalm 139.11-12

 Darkness is as Light is available anywhere books are sold. You can support the small press by ordering directly from their book shop. Sneak peeks below!

pg. 1

pg. 81

pg. 82

my stack of publications

Saturday, October 10, 2020


Tomorrow we will have a 5 year memorial for my dear friend's husband, and I'm grateful to offer this along with my prayers for his soul and his family. 

I treasure being asked to make koliva for memorials. I am unendingly grateful to the friend who taught me how to make it, and I'm humbled and honored by the friends who have asked me to make it in their grief. This task takes time and draws my hands into beautiful symbols of color and smell. It is a gift that reminds us of our hope in the life of God, the sweetness of death. 

Wash and boil the wheat about 1.5 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the other ingredients: deseed pomegranate, chop fresh parsley, toast almonds, measure spices, process graham cracker crumbs

when the wheat is cooked, I lay it out on a towels covered with a clean white table cloth. 
I was taught to pour it out in the form of a cross, and I never skip this step!

Spread the wheat out to dry, overnight if possible. This will take many hours. 

When the wheat is ready, put it in a bowl with the mix-in ingredients.
Be sure to set some aside for decorations. 

Sometimes it is made on a platter, which is very pretty when making a large amount.
Smaller quantities are pretty in a glass bowl through which you can still see the wheat. 

Even though the wheat dried a long time, it still contains some moisture. A layer of graham cracker crumbs separates the sugar from the moisture. 

Next comes the powdered sugar covering. I was taught to smooth it perfectly with wax paper.

Except I can never keep it perfectly smooth! So I started sprinkling an even pattern
of sugar over the smoothed layer. This helps hide the smudges I will inevitably make in the
sugar when I add the decorations. 

First the cross with Jordan Almonds. Someone from our parish got these beautiful silver ones
(and some accompanying decorative candy shapes) from Greece. 

Next the initials of the departed beloved one. I used the white almonds to make the border. 

I like to use the pomegranates (or raisins in some seasons), parsley, and seeds in the
decorations to add color and reflect the hope and life in the cross. I use a tiny paint brush to
dust off sugar that gets on top of my decorations. 

May his memory be eternal!

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Wisdom! Church School Videos

Hey friends, I'm making some short videos for use in virtual church schools (or families to use at home in lieu of church school). I'm preparing two videos per month through May. September and October's videos are already up. Each video presents a lesson briefly based on Scripture readings through the church year, which families or teachers can share with kids. Each lesson comes with a variety of class ideas, including discussion questions, icons and hymns, activities and crafts. Feel free to use and share. 

Resource Guide