Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Signs of Spring

Spring has officially begun and even if it arrived with cold temperatures and rain, it's a welcome sight after a long winter.  And, although the calendar tells us it's spring I still love to rely on nature's cues. I love all of the spring flowers and blossoming trees. I try to get outside as much as possible to take in the awakening of my surroundings. 

Here are a few photos that I've taken recently that capture some signs of spring...

Tiny daisies blanket the landscape at a park...

These are my zoumboulies. They smell amazing!

Almond blossoms 

Almond tree

 Apricot blossoms

And finally, my littlest blossom loves to pick spring flowers for me. 


Happy Spring! 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Apokries 2011~ Clean Monday

Cute isn't she? This was the first of many hats and masks that she would bring home from school during Apokries/carnival season, which has kept us busy for the last few weeks. 

 My little bird says, "Chiou, chiou." 

I'm on the PTA/syllogo at Alexandra's school and we made soutzoukakia sandwiches for the children on Tsiknopempti or "Charred Thursday." Tskinopempti is the beginning of Apokries/Carnival in Greece.  Each sandwich consisted of 2 small soutzoukakia  and fries. We served the children at around 11:00am because many of them are finished with their day by noon. Alexandra is always thrilled when I'm at school helping with these events. What's really cute is that a lot of the children refer to me as "Ms. Alexandra" because they don't know my name but they know that I'm her mother. 

She had a wonderful time. 

One week later we had a costume party to attend. The kids were so excited and  I have to say that shopping for new costumes this year was a lot of fun. Alexandra was an angel, Foti a ninja, Izabella was Hannah Montana(again), and I wore a festive hat that Alexandra selected especially for me. 

At the party. 

There was a clown that entertained the children for a few hours. Here's Alexandra with her "weiner." 

By the end of the night, the balloons lost their cool shapes...somehow. 

So the costume party was over and we had the weekend ahead. This year we didn't go to Kozani or anywhere to see a parade. The weather forecast  for the weekend was cold and snowy so we decided to stay close to home. 
And the forecast for Clean Monday/Katheri Deftera was even less promising.  

The morning was dreary and gray. I started cooking the traditional  bean soup, fasolada, early so that it would be ready and warm when we returned from flying our kites. It's tradition to fly kites on Clean Monday and you can usually look up and see kites in the air everywhere throughout the day-which wasn't the case in our area this year. Since we didn't fly kites last year because of the snow and cold we experienced in Kozani, we promised the kids that nothing would keep us from going out this year.

As soon as we left the house to fly our kites it started to rain, then snow and then it rained again. But it didn't matter, we were going to stick with our plans. So, we drove to a beach nearby and found a nice open area, which was easy since there was only one other family at that location braving the cold weather, it was very quiet. I have to admit that this was the first time in my life that I flew a kite on a beach over the water. Very cool, except when you see your kite going down! Luckily, we were able to maneuver our kites away from the sea a few times and I'm happy to report that none of them took a dive. 

Alexandra flying her kite. 

 It's the first time she managed to keep one up on her own. 

Foti is always totally into it. I bought him a new kite this year and he couldn't wait to fly it.  

Although we managed to keep this one up in the air for a bit, we were mostly disappointed by its performance. 

His old- but trusty Spider-man kite flew much better. 

Foti flying his Spider-man kite. 

 Here's a shot of Izabella flying her Dora kite. She's had this one since she was two years old. It's still flying strong, even in the rain & snow. 

Izabella taking a break from the wind and snow. 

It did get very cold and after about an hour of fun we were frozen so we packed up and went home where I immediately served hot chocolate and coffee, a perfect way to warm up. And since everyone was hungry it was time for lunch. 

I served lagana, which is traditionally served on only one day each year...Clean Monday. 

Here's the fasolada I made. I've used Maria's recipe for the last few years and the kids love it. It's just as delicious as it looks. 

We also had olives and a side of  "paprika" to spread on our lagana. 

And finally, Makedonikos Halvas

Izabella dips her lagana into her fasolada. 

After lunch we lit a fire and relaxed- watching the wicked weather outside while staying cozy and warm inside.  This was one of the the quietest Apokries seasons that we've had since living in Greece and it was wonderful. Kali Sarakosti.


~Kyra Sarakosti~

Alexandra's Kyra Sarakosti  ~with no mouth which represents fasting, her hands are crossed in prayer and she has seven feet to represent the seven weeks of Lent. A foot is removed after each Saturday that passes until Easter.