Cardamom Lemon Biscotti (Contains Oil)

Cardamom - Lemon Biscotti (Contains oil)

Hello All! 

Caroline here with one of my all time favorite recipes! Guess what? It's VEGAN! Let it be known that biscotti is my weakness and go-to snack food, mostly because I'm constantly drinking coffee. My husband is a manager of a stellar coffee shop here in Louisville and I have 2 kids under the age of 4. I'll just leave it at that. 


So these biscotti... They're Cardamom - Lemon and the recipe is adapted from my favorite food blogger, Sarah Britton of My New Roots. (original recipe here). Anything with cardamom in it is super divine and I love making a huge batch of these before Lent begins and keeping them in my freezer for special wine and oil days, or when I need a pick-me-up. 


The flour in here is just oats that you run through the food processor, so if you're trying to avoid gluten, it can be easily adapted by just opting for gluten-free rolled oats! Yippee! Without further adieu, here is the recipe! Stay tuned this week for more goodies that complement these bad boys PERFECTLY. 

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St. Xenia, Fool for Christ + FREE PRINTABLE

Hello all! 

We are having a fabulous time today getting to know more about the amazing St. Xenia and sharing her story with our kiddos and friends. We compiled a few resources and thought we would share them with you all today! Below is a summarized version of her story with questions to ponder as a group. Plus, scroll all the way down for a FREE PRINTABLE of St. Xenia drawn by the lovely ladies here at Draw Near Designs! 

St. Xenia's Story:

Xenia was once a young and beautiful woman. She was married to a man name Andrew who was a colonel in the army. Together they attended balls and parties and didn't have a care in the world. Then, one night Andrew suddenly died. He was young, and his wife Xenia was overcome with grief.

Why was Xenia so sad? Why had she spent her time going to parties instead of getting to know God?

Xenia disappeared for several years from the city. No one knew where she went, but when she returned she was wearing her husbands army jacket and told people to call her Andrew. She said to herself "before I found comfort in worldly things, but now I see all of that doesn't matter when you die. Now all I want is to find comfort in Christ."

She owned a house, but gave it away to a friend with the instructions that it be used to house people who were homeless. She gave away all of her money, and her family members began to think she had gone mad! "Let us help you Xenia!" They'd say to her "I don't need anything." She replied with a peaceful smile. She didn't sleep indoors herself, she wandered to a nearby field where she would spend her time in prayer.

A church was being built in a cemetery nearby. At night Xenia would go there in secret and help to carry bricks so that the workers wouldn't have to. "I want to help build Christ's church." She said to herself. One night the workers stayed and hid behind a building. They wanted to see who the mysterious person was that was helping them with their work. Very late in the night, they saw a tiny woman dressed in rags carrying an armful of bricks. It was Xenia, the homeless woman they knew. Some people said she was crazy, others said she was a "holy fool", but by this sign the masons truly knew she was doing God's work.

St. Xenia eventually died herself. Soon after her passing people started visiting her grave and miracles started to happen. Once, when a lady was visiting St.Petersburg, some friends told her about St. Xenia. That night, the lady asked St. Xenia to pray for her. She had a dream where St. Xenia was walking around the her house pouring water on everything. How strange! In the morning, the lady's nearby barn caught on fire, but the fire did not spread to the home and she was safe! Glory to God!

For the full version, check out this link: 

We hope you all enjoy sharing this story with your loved ones!


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THE WHAT {are we making?}

So what is this calendar we keep talking about? We wanted to create a calendar that was useful and beautiful for children to have hanging in their rooms. We wanted a calendar for children like our own, who are Orthodox and culturally American. We wanted something with warm illustrations of children living life as Orthodox Christians, something that encouraged them to participate in their faith. 


Abigail and Marian decided to split the work of illustrations, each painting 6 full color illustrations for the months, and sharing the black and white saints drawings (there are around 50!). We brainstormed as a team to decide on activities, memory exercises, and crafts for each month. Caroline wrote everything up, and worked her magic to make all of our ideas come to life! After consults with our priest, infinite texts and e-mails, meetings over coffee, and toddler disputes that we refereed, Love & Joy: An Orthodox Children's Calendar began to take more definite form. 


The paintings for the months were inspired by either the season or a church feast occurring around then. For instance, January's painting is a scene from Abigail's daughter's baptism, inspired by Theophany. June's painting features two children's playing together, emphasizing the friendship of Saints Peter and Paul. August's scene is Marian's daughter reaching for the icon of the Theotokos over her crib, referencing the Dormition of the Theotokos that month. December shows Marian's other daughter putting Jesus in his manger on Christmas morning, while the icon of the Nativity of Christ reminds us of the glory that a child's manger scene is mimicking. 


Caroline chose a color from each month's painting to become the watercolor background for the days. In an effort to make this calendar as practical for American Orthodox children, We chose to include American holidays, church feasts, and 3-5 saints for each month (with the drawing of that saint shown in their feast day). Fasting days are denoted by a circle of a slightly different shade than the background. Fish, wine, and oil days are marked with a small, white logo in the corner of each day. We wanted the calendar to include pertinent information, while remaining uncluttered and clean looking. 

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The crafts and recipes are some seasonal activities, and some church-related. For instance, in February we suggest making a string of paper hearts with names on them of people we want to pray for, and then hang the string in our icon corner-- a less candy-oriented take on Valentine's Day. For June, the recipe is Marian's husband's favorite apple pie that they always make him on Father's Day-- but we also add a prayer for children to be praying as they make the pie! In October, the recipe is for a child's version of Koliva, an invitation to discuss the Orthodox view of death in the face of Halloween. Caroline expressed it best in our Kickstarter video, when she shared our desire to use the cultural history of Orthodoxy and the beauty of the church cycle, and make it easier for busy parents to teach their children about these rich traditions. 


The calendar is spiral bound so that it will hang flat on a wall, and the covers are thick and durable to support the extra weight of the 52 pages. We love the thought of families using these calendars throughout the year, inspiring new crafts, lessons, and traditions. Glory to God!

THE HOW {did this even start?}

Marian Adams here today, to tell you the story of how Draw Near Designs began. In 2016, Abigail began to illustrate a children's board book about icons. She would post her beautiful paintings on Instagram, and I would admire the sweet faces and gentle colors. One night in December of 2016, I had a dream. I dreamed of creating a calendar for Orthodox children and collaborating with Abbi for the illustrations. In my dream, the calendar would include activity and craft suggestions for each week (things like "Write your Godparents a letter," "Thank a family member for something they do for you every day," or "Make a card for an elderly friend or neighbor."). When I woke up, I mentioned in to my husband and went about my day, and then a bit later, I wrote Abbi and mentioned this odd dream I had. 


There's a line from a children's book, Rosie Revere, Engineer, that I love, "But questions are tricky, and some hold on tight." This question held on tight, indeed: Could I really create something like the calendar in my dream? With no experience, no budget, and not much free time? I just couldn't stop thinking about it, and more and more ideas for this calendar kept popping into my head. So a month or two later I asked Abbi how serious she was about pursuing this hairbrained idea. Once we both agreed we wanted this to happen, we were off running!



The previous year, I had written, illustrated, and self-published a coloring book, "That's Nonsense: A silly ABC book to color and read" (it's available on Amazon). Caroline Gann, a graphic designer friend I had known from my church in Lexington who had recently moved to Louisville had kindly and generously helped me format the coloring book, which I had just drawn on looseleaf paper! When I approached her about my idea for an Orthodox children's calendar, and asked if she would be willing to team up and be in charge of the graphic design part of it, she was immediately on board. Abbi, Caroline, and I began talking more about what we wanted this calendar to look like and how to make it happen. We are all busy mamas with multiple kids each. None of us had "free time" to pursue hobbies. But we all felt a passion in our hearts to find the time to bring this calendar into existence. I say this with great humility, because I know there are so many other people with greater artistic skill, more experience creating resources for children, and years more practice leading children through their Faith-- but it felt like God had given us this project and put the desire in our hearts. And so we set out to make it happen. 


We divvied up the "who would do what." We talked about what we wanted to include in the calendar. Who is our target audience? Should the recipes and activities be at the end? A separate booklet? Following each month? Spiral bound? Saddle stitched? How were we going to print these? How many did we think we might sell? So many decisions! When we decided to launch a Kickstarter to fund the publishing costs, we decided to start a company along with it. I loved the image of children drawing closer to Christ, and Draw Near Designs was born. And that's the (short) version of how this Abbi, Caroline, and I started working together to create Love & Joy: An Orthodox Children's Calendar. A dream, a hope, and a prayer!