Yiayia was here when Great Lent began. During that first week, I took advantage of the extra set of hands in the house and made my kulichi. I am SO relieved to have them finished already! They are tucked away in the basement freezer and ready to be decorated on Holy Saturday. Next up will be cheese pascha, but I am holding off on that for a bit still because I am hunting for a new recipe to try.
Last year my husband and I decided to make it a goal to make a family pilgrimage to a monastery a few times each year. Even though we are a clergy family, we do not get to do as many family church trips as I would like, because we often split up and I stay home with the kids while my husband goes to a church that is a longer distance from home. Well, we had a marathon day of visiting monasteries with my aunt and grandmother the other day. We went to three in one day! The first stop was St. Sava monastery in Libertyville, followed by New Gracanica monastery just a few miles away. There, we had a moleben (prayer service) for our entire family, which was so nice. My aunt and I sang the responses together, which was really nice for the both of us (she is my godmother so there is nothing like singing in church to bond us). The last stop was in Kenosha, Wisconsin at the Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Mother of God. This monastery is incredible. It is not only the biggest of the three we visited, but it is also the most strict and most populated (by monastics) of the three. There are blocked off sections which are not open to visitors, and several churches here, too. We did not stay for very long, but we did visit the bookstore, got some Lenten cookies (they are so good!) and stayed for a few minutes of their evening service. Unfortunately, I did not remember to snap a photo at the Greek monastery, but here is a photo of the ever-so-beautiful New Gracanica church.