Apr 212013
 
 April 21, 2013  Ridvan 2 Responses »

Walking Through the Garden of Ridvan 2013Happy Ridván!  I am pleased to announce the beginning of a series from some of the women behind Bahá’í Mom Blogs, designed to tell the story of this festival and introduce some ideas for celebrating it with our little ones.

We kick off this series with a post from Varya of Creative World of Varya, who introduces us to the Ridván festival.

A new blog will share a post each day.  For a complete list, see the series main page and join us in Walking Through the Garden of Ridván!

Apr 082013
 
 April 8, 2013  Ridvan Comments Off on Coming Soon: Walking Through the Garden of Ridvan

Walking Through the Garden of Ridvan 2013In just a few weeks, Bahá’ís will celebrate the festival of Ridván.  This twelve day period (April 21 – May 2) is considered one of the holiest Bahá’í holidays.

This year, several members of Bahá’í Mom Blogs have come together to offer ideas for how we can introduce this beautiful festival to our children.

You can read more about this festival and our upcoming series (starting April 21) on the main page: Walking Through the Garden of Ridvan.  Be sure to follow my Bahá’í Parenting Board on Pinterest as well!

May 022012
 
 May 2, 2012  Baha'i, crafts, food, Ridvan 11 Responses »

This afternoon a friend and I co-hosted our Baha’i community’s celebration of the Twelfth Day of Ridvan.  We worked together to create a short program with music, readings, and a story for children about Baha’u’llah‘s stay in the Ridvan Garden.

Our butterfly cake (Spoiler alert! Strawberry on the loose!)

While my friend provided most of the refreshments, I offered to bake a treat that I remembered from my own childhood – a butterfly cake.  I borrowed a recipe for a vanilla cake (vegan!) with cream cheese frosting from my sister and started trolling the internet for ideas on how to make a butterfly-shaped cake.  While my own mother’s method used a 9 x 13 sheet pan, I wasn’t sure the pan I had would work.  So instead, I opted to do a healthier version of this cake, which utilizes a simple round baking pan.  Since this would result in a rather small, one layer cake, I decided to double the recipe and make cupcakes as well.

My dear sister suggested that I turn the cupcakes into ladybugs, a suggestion I nearly dismissed out of hand, since that seemed a little too, well, out-of-the-box creative for someone like me, who likes to follow tutorials and recipes line by line.  Luckily, she persuaded me, and after a bit of experimentation, the results were quite lovely!

Butterfly Cake

First to be tackled was the cake itself.  After the cake had completed cooled, I cut it in half and reversed the halves, so that the two semi-circles were facing away from each other.  Per the tutorial, I carved a notch in each and shaped them a bit so they looked more like wings.  Now I just needed to find a replacement for the candy used in the tutorial for the body, since I thought the cake would be sweet enough without it.

The extra cupcakes came in handy here – I just cut the sides off two of them and lined them up between the wings to form the body.  Now it was really looking like a butterfly!

Finally, it was time to make the frosting.  I was adamant about avoiding artificial food coloring, so I did some research about natural food dyes.  This post is a great guide to using natural foods to create dyes for Easter eggs and for frosting cakes.  I had a bag of frozen berries, so I decided to do a pink/purple color, using the juice from mashed blueberries and blackberries.

The only problem is that the post uses a specific frosting recipe, so that the extra juice from the berries doesn’t create a frosting that is too runny.  Since I was using my own recipe, however, I wasn’t quite sure how to modify it to avoid this, and so even though I did not use very much juice (hence the light color), I was still left with frosting that ran right off the cake.

I know you are distracted by all that runny frosting – but look at the beautiful platter my cousin made for us!

The frosting was already so sweet that I didn’t want to add more powdered sugar, which I knew would thicken it up, so instead I used one of the ingredients in powdered sugar – cornstarch!  It didn’t change the flavor at all and did help with the consistency.  Still, in the end, I had to put the whole thing in the refrigerator for about an hour before I could finish frosting it, and even then the strawberry slices I added as a final decoration tended to slide off the cake.

I still was pleased with the final results, although next time I will tinker a bit more with the recipe to make frosting easier.

On to the cupcakes!

Ladybug Cupcakes

From this post I got the idea to use beetroot powder for the red coloring for my cupcake frosting.   After doing a little more research into how to use it in frosting and baking, I was ready to get started.  (If you’re not sure where to get beetroot powder, check the bulk bins at your local coop).  The powder was much easier to work with than the berry juice had been and gave me a frosting with the perfect consistency.  Next time I may just go with this for the butterfly cake as well!

As for the rest of the decorations, I was really on my own, since the many tutorials and photos I found for ladybug cupcakes used candy and other artificial ingredients.  For the spots, I opted for raisins, and, at my sister’s suggestion, used blackberries for the ladybug heads.  They were adorable!  I just wish I had had fresh blackberries on hand: although I drained the frozen berries as they were defrosting, they still had a bit of trouble staying in place because they were so much squishier than the fresh ones would have been.

So, many lessons learned!  Watch out, community: when next Ridvan comes around, a new and improved butterfly cake and her ladybug friends may make another appearance!

Many thanks to my mother and sister for their consultations on these recipes!

This post can also be found at Natural Mothers Network’s Seasonal Celebration Sunday, Tammy’s Recipes’ Kitchen Tip Tuesdays, Milk and Cuddles’ Mommy Club, and Bowdabra’s Saturday Showcase.

Apr 192012
 

“Dignified” is not a word I typically associated with toddlers.  Yet it is the word I keep coming back to as I prepare to celebrate the festival of Ridvan with my little Monkey.

The 12 days of Ridvan, which begin on April 21, are the holiest of Baha’i holidays, and I want to make them special for my little boy, who is just beginning to develop an awareness of the rhythm of the seasons and the joy of holidays.

So I have decided to focus on recreating elements of the Ridvan Garden where Baha’u’llah visited before his exile from Baghdad: the tent where He stayed, the flowers brought to him every morning by the gardeners, and – especially – the sense of wonder and awe about the significance of His stay.

This is by no means an original idea.  I first heard of it years ago, when a dear friend set up a tent in her daughter’s room during Ridvan, based on a lesson in Brilliant Star magazine.

We don’t have a suitable tent, so I’m planning on draping a sheet over our living room table.  Inside, I’m going to try to create a dignified atmosphere by laying out a beautiful, handwoven table runner given to me while I was in Belize years ago. On it will go a basket full of tissue paper flowers.

The flowers are important to me because one of my favorite stories as a child was that during Baha’u’llah’s stay in the Ridvan Garden, the gardeners became so enamored of Him that they used to bring armfuls of flowers for His tent, so many that when His guests sat down to have tea, they couldn’t see each other over the mound of flowers!

To celebrate this story, I’m going to make some flowers out of tissue paper & pipe cleaners, based on this tutorial.  That way, my little Monkey and I can drink our tea inside the tent, over our own (much smaller!) mound of flowers.

To add to the effect of being in a garden, we also still have hanging around the living room these beautiful flower chains my sister made out of craft foam.  Because she used something like fishing wire to string them together, they have the effect of seem to float in the air – The look on my little Monkey’s face the first morning he saw them was priceless!

We originally hung them up for Ayyam-i-Ha, but since they are so perfect for Ridvan as well, we will keep them up through the end of the festival.

What else do we have planned for Ridvan this year?  I am really looking forward to going strawberry picking with our community on a small, organic farm, an activity I know my little boy will also love.

In addition, a friend and I are hosting the celebration of the final (twelfth) day of Ridvan, which commemorates when Baha’u’llah left the Ridvan Garden.  Our craft for kids will be focused on nightingales.  There were many nightingales in the Ridvan Garden, and Baha’u’llah used these nocturnal birds as a beautiful metaphor for lovers of God who cannot sleep because they are singing God’s praises.  Based on this idea, we are going to help the kids make and decorate nightingale puppets out of cardstock and ribbons, as shown in this amazing Core Curriculum Lesson Planning Guide (bird craft begins on page 24).

So that’s the plan, friends!  How will it all turn out??  Stay tuned!

For more ideas on celebrating Ridvan with your little ones, check out this wonderfully creative collection.

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