Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Replating and Repair

One of our great treasures from our wedding is a small pewter chalice that was given to us by the Deacon who prepared us for marriage.  It has seen several home Masses and used by some of the priests who have been close to our family.  It is nothing special, except to us.  It is not even full size.  Along the way, we also acquired a sterling silver paten that was gold plated.  Over the years, the paten wore thin, and we were facing replating or replacement.

We looked at several places to replate/refinish and repair our liturgical vessels and decided on Alviti Creations (  We could not be happier with the finished products.  We had the Paten finished silver with a bright gold lining, and had the Chalice gold lined.  The person who recommended the company said that he had dealt with several people who had purchased old used chalices and had them refinished and then gave them to their priest sons, etc.  Doing this they can gift a 1k dollar chalice without spending that kind of money.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Top 10-ish Home Chapel Gifts Guide

'Tis the season, as they say.  While you are thinking about the gifts you are getting and giving this Advent/Christmas Season, I would encourage you all to buy something for your family's pray corner/little oratory/chapel.  While the resource page above has plenty of sources for items and accouterments, below is a curated best-of list for 2019... a top 10, of sorts... 10 ish.


 1. If you don't already have a Sick Call Cross, get this one Black Wood St. Benedict Cross.  It is high quality, and every home needs one... period.  Fr. Jerabek has an excellent blog post on them here: Sick Call Crucifix

2. A space for prayer.  If you are struggling to find a place to gather in your home or wondering where to start, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this book: The Little Oratory

Call to Prayer and Sacramentals

1. If there is one book you read as a family this advent, read "Searching for and Maintaining Peace" by Jacques Philippe

2. I carry two pieces of rope with me, a Rosary and a Chotki.  In my mind, if one lung is getting sluggish, I can breathe with the other one.  If you don't have one or the other, I recommend a ladder Rosary from Benedict's Beads (seen below) and a Chotki from Christ the Bridegroom Monastery.

3. Get some oil blessed.  Blessed Oil for home use is different than what is used in the Sacraments of the Church.  The exorcism prayer over it is quite lovely, and it has many uses.  Blessed Oil can be used to bless yourself or your children, it can be used in cooking, and it can be burned in oil vigil lamps.  We burn ours in vigil lamps, so I have this recommendation, you want to buy real olive oil and not a blend because we want to give the best to our Lord, but you don't want Extra Virgin Olive Oil, because it has more particulates and will clog your wicks.  We have had good luck with Filippo Berio olive oil, but I hear Cosco Olive Oil works great.

4. The Liturgy of the Hours.  Get it, say the black, do the red.

Smells and Bells

1. I'm an advocate for Incense use in the home... If you want to start out, this advent season, I recommend 3 purchases.  Get this censer.  It is inexpensive, it holds heat well, it breathes well, and it has a wooden handle.  Get this incense.  It has a nice lemony scent on the front and a musky finish, best of all it is hypoallergenic.  Finally, get this charcoal.  Three Kings is the brand used in a lot of churches, and the 33mm size is much better for home use.

2.  You NEED bells.  If You buy them from Catholic Liturgicals, they are reasonably priced to the point that you don't mind if your 3-year-old gets a little vigorous ringing the bells for night prayers.  While you are there, get yourself a clackus... you deserve it.

3. We make our own beeswax candles for our specific needs, but if that is not your cup of tea, the place I would recommend would be Saints Mary and Martha Orthodox Monastery.  There are others, to be sure, but I have either found inconsistent products elsewhere, or I just haven't tried some companies.

For the Connoisseur

1.  The Hand Cross (Blessing Cross) used by eastern priests and bishops is equally appropriate in the home to bless your children.  While the icon style ones (above) are pretty, go with an Ethiopian Hand Cross.  They are beautiful, full of meaning, and handmade.  The price is pretty easy too.

2. Icons are always a good choice.  As we are celebrating the incarnation of Jesus, an icon of the Nativity would be very appropriate.  I would like to recommend, this year, that instead of going with the classic Rublev nativity that would take a lot of explaining to Latin friends, that you go with this beautiful icon that keeps with eastern sentiments but doesn't shove St. Joseph away.

3. Everybody loves the hanging vigil lamps, but if you are just starting out, start easy.  Go with a Heavy glass Votive Lamp that you can sit on a shelf or table.  They are inexpensive, easy to manage, and very pretty.  As a plus, they are readily available from a US-based vendor so you don't have to wait 3 months for a shipment from Greece or Russia.  Get the floating wick and use blessed olive oil.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Final Countdown!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

All Soul's Day 2019 and Icon Mounting

We had an excellent All Saints Day into All Souls Day weekend.  Saturday we hosted a baby shower sprinkle for a wonderful family that is having their first girl after 5 boys.  To distract the children we went to a Russian Food Festival.

To cap the weekend off, I mounted one of the many icon prints I have needed to take care of for the chapel.  It seems appropriate that I tested out my woodworking skills on an icon of St. Joseph.  A few ruff edges and imperfections, but all things considered, I think it looks pretty good.

St. Joesph, Pray for Us.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

New Candlesticks

We are approaching a year of our Chapel in its current form.  To celebrate, the most beautiful candlesticks replaced our pewter and rust candlesticks that have chipped and flaked since day one.  I would be intrigued to compare these inexpensive "San Pietro" style candlesticks from Sudbury with some of the older ones I see in various churches.  As far as I can tell, the brass is true, and are every bit as lovely as ones that cost 10s or 100s more.  They are solid proof that if you keep an eye out, you can find worthy things for your home chapel/prayer corner without breaking the bank.  So often the bulk made things for home use are more plasticky and not much better than tchotchkes.

Also, I know in the first picture that the burse is crooked, but my 3-year old insisted on helping last night and he was so proud, I don't have the heart...

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Svíčková and St. Wenceslaus

Dedicated to my little sister Alžběta who has never had a poor critique of my Czech roast.

This is an excellent time of year for my family, both of our Confirmation Saints are celebrated within days of each other: St. Wenceslaus and St. Therese of Lisieux.  We also get to celebrate the great traditional feast of Michaelmas / The Feast of the Archangels.  Sept. 28th is my eldest daughter's baptismal day, so she also renewed her baptismal promises that evening after vespers.  Good Times for all.

Every year, we have a Czech feast, and most years we post pictures and my little sister asks me for recipes, and I tell her I will get them sent.  She has been very patient with me. 

Svíčková na Smetaně 

Basically marinated beef in cream sauce, we had been eating this by the pound from Bohemian Cafe long before they even thought about closing their doors.  The problem with the recipe is that it is a matter of proportions, time, and what is available.


Some roast like meat, sirloin is classic, tenderloin is tasty, chuck is just fine
Root vegetables: onion, carrots, celery, parsnips.
Seasoning: salt, peppercorns, allspice, marjoram, bay leaves
Liquids: Vinegar (I like Apple Cider), Topping off liquid (I use apple juice if the 3-year-old prince is not looking.
Sour cream... and corn starch..... and some milk type liquid...

If you have days to marinate, use a little less vinegar.

If you have a day and a half to 2 days:

Lard the beef with the bacon: cut into the meat, force bacon inside.

Season roast with salt and pepper.... just for good measure  

Stick in a non-reactive container or plastic bag with cut-up vegetables.  

Fill halfway with vinegar and halfway with topping off liquid.

Use your common sense.  you want the liquid to be in contact with everything, but you don't want to stick it in a giant metal stockpot, so don't chop up 12 onions and 2 large parsnips and then use a whole jug of apple cider vinegar for a 2-pound roast.

When the time has come, remove the roast from its bath, sear on all sides and place in a pan so that when you put the vegetable bath in, it only goes halfway up the roast.

Roast at 350ºF till it's done.  Seriously, it depends on your cut of beef.  

Take the roast out and let it set.  Strain the juice from the veggies, discard the veggies.  Bring the jus to a boil.  On the side mix some milk or water, or almond milk with cornstarch and add to boiling liquid to thicken.  Season to taste.  Remove from heat and stir in 2 spoonfuls of sour cream.

While all this is going on, make some potato dumplings that are the size of your child's forearm and cook them

And serve
We didn't have sourcream that the Eldest could have this year.... so it doesn't have that classic look to the gravy.... my bad.

Betty, I am sorry this was so late in coming..... if you can even call it a recipe.

Eat Kolaces for desert

Saturday, September 28, 2019

A Moment of Spontaneous Prayer

This is why we have this space... for beautiful moments like these.