Category

Culture

DIY “Christmas in July” Garland Decoration

Celebrate Christmas in July with this festive garland! An easy and fun craft for young children and the young at heart, this garland will brighten your day! Click here to download our printable template with three designs: Vacation Santa, Palm Tree with Lights and Beach Snowman. Print the designs of your choice on cardstock, hole punch, then hang with string or yarn.

PFA Monthly Hangout!

Missing your PFA pals? I know I am! So we thought, why not get together via Zoom and have some fun?!

We are planning a variety of activities – cultural, crafting, baking, gardening and more – for all to enjoy! The activities will be simple, easy things to make or do, and you can bring your snack/beverage of choice and say hello to your friends at the same time! We are calling it the “PFA Monthly Hangout!”

Please join Druhna Chris Puskar for our first session on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. eastern. Be sure to invite your friends to join too!

For February’s activity, Druhna Chris will lead us in making our own clothespin wreath. A stress-free craft, all you need to do is bring your supplies and your favorite snack/beverage.

To receive the Zoom link, please send an email to Druhna Chris at cpuskar@polishfalcons.org.


Clothespin Wreath Supplies

Click here for printable supplies list.

Most of these items are available at the Dollar Store or Walmart.

  • 36 – 40 clothespins

  • Craft paint and paint brushes – You can make the wreath all one color or two colors, and coordinate with your ribbon choice.

  • Ribbon – 1 piece 14 inches long, one piece 12 inches long (wired ribbon works best but non-wired will work too)

  • Cardboard circle – 6 ½ inches in diameter on the outside of the circle and 6 inches on the inside. I use foamboard, but even a cardboard amazon-type box will work.

  • Wire – 10 – 12 inches long or you can use several twist ties. This will be used to hang your wreath.

  • Paper or plastic tablecloth to cover your workspace

  • Plastic gloves so you do not get paint all over your hands.

  • Paper plates to use as a palette for your paint

VP Trish: Paczki!

For years, I have wanted to make paczki. But, every recipe I found simply overwhelmed me. It takes lots of time for the dough to rest, rise, punch down and rise again and so on. I view quite a few Polish recipe Facebook pages and I found this recipe recently – just in time for Fat Tuesday!

The kids and I made these and they turned out quite well. Not as good as they should have because I didn’t have a thermometer (ordered one yesterday!), so I guessed with the warm milk for the yeast. This was also the first time I used a recipe calling for yeast; I usually avoid yeast! The best part of this recipe is that you bake the paczki instead of deep frying (all that hot oil around the kids scares me!).

John’s Babcia used to make paczki all the time and she never filled hers. When we made ours, we did not fill them either. As Ryanna said, these tasted like heaven.

Since you are stuck in the house, why not give these a try? Lots of fun and so good!

Paczki Recipe

Place 3/4 cup whole milk – warm (120-130*) but not too hot for yeast, in a bowl.

Add:

  • 1 packet or 2 teaspoons yeast
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Let sit until bubbly

Add:

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Add:

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Using a mixer, beat all ingredients until the dough holds together, adding more flour when necessary.

On a floured surface, knead 5 minutes, cover with linen cloth or plastic and let rest for 10-15 minutes.

On a floured surface, roll dough ½-inch thick. Cut circles using a 2 ½-inch round cutter, or water glass dipped in flour, until all dough is used.

Place paczki on greased baking sheet. Cover with a towel, and let rise in a warm spot about 1 hour at room temperature, until almost doubled.

Bake for 10 -12 minutes in preheated 350-degree oven until nicely browned.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in microwave and place ½ cup sugar in a brown lunch bag or bowl.

Brush each paczki while warm with the melted butter and place in bag to coat with sugar (you may use a cinnamon sugar mixture, instead of just sugar).

As I mentioned, I did not fill mine, but here is the recipe just in case you want a little more work!

While dough is resting, in a saucepan combine:

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Stir in slowly:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg yolk

Bring to a boil, stirring continuously for 1 ½ minutes.

Remove from stove and pour cooked custard in bowl and place in refrigerator to cool.

Let the paczki cool, then fill using a pastry bag with a long tip, pushing into the side. Squeeze custard filling in gently (the paczki will grow a bit when filled with the custard).


PFA’s “Let’s Walk” Program

As has been mentioned and promoted previously, the Polish Falcons offers a walking program for Members. Druhna Chris has made a few modifications and is strongly encouraging all of us to participate. With that in mind, Cupid (a bit early) brought Fitbits for John, Ryan, Ryanna and myself. It is lots of fun for the kids and it does help to get one moving.

Obviously, you don’t need a Fitbit; there are numerous free apps to use or one can continue to log miles. Whatever works! (Especially after eating paczki, we need to do lots of walking!)

2021 Walking Program Record Sheet

Our weather is interesting in that we are getting a fair amount of snow, it is cold, but there is often wonderful sunshine! Sun helps my soul so I have been trying to get outside during these bursts. The kids love the great outdoors so they are outside regardless of the temperature or the time of day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Keep warm and safe!

2020 Virtual Sharing of the Oplatek

Thank you to everyone who attended our Virtual Sharing of the Oplatek on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020!

Please enjoy the following highlights and photos (screenshots!) from the event.


Prayer and Message from Fr. Timothy Whalen, PFA National Chaplain


A Polish Christmas Tradition: Sharing of the Oplatek


Remarks by Trish Del Busse, PFA National First Vice President

Ordinarily, we would walk around, share the Oplatek, hug, kiss and offer each other a very Merry Christmas and good wishes for the New Year. This year is quite different and very challenging in so many ways. But we are still gathering (even though virtually) and it is still the most wonderful time of the year!

I would like to offer a few reminders from books and movies:

  • The true spirit of Christmas lies in our hearts!
  • Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we cannot see!
  • The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!
  • Christmas isn’t just a day; it is a frame of mind!

Christmas gift suggestions:

  • To your enemy, forgiveness.
  • An opponent, tolerance.
  • To your friend, your heart.
  • A customer, service.
  • To all, charity.
  • To every child, a good example.
  • To yourself, respect.

Jesus is the reason, Christmas is the Birthday of our Lord.

And so, this Christmas season may our hearts with gladness glow, as we remember the blessed story that took place so long ago. This is Christmas: not the tinsel, not the giving and receiving, not even the carols, but the humble heart that receives anew the wondrous gift, the Christ child. Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide-open heart that thinks of others first.

John and I along with our family Wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas, Wesolych Swiat!

I usually wish a Happy, Healthy New Year, but this year, I will also add out with the old and in with the new!

Hopefully, 2021 will bring us much optimism, joy and prosperity. Instead of wishing for an extraordinary 2021, let’s pray for a somewhat ordinary 2021!

Czolem!


Cicha Noc (Silent Night) (Video Credit: Polish Eagle)


Special Message from Larry Kozlowski, PFA Cultural Commissioner


Photos (Screenshots!) from the Event

Click to enlarge.

Additional Carols:

Virtual Sharing of the Oplatek

You’re invited to join us virtually for a beloved Polish Christmas tradition – sharing of the Oplatek wafer – on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. eastern.

This virtual “Sharing of the Oplatek” is free and open to all. Gather via Zoom to wish one another a blessed Christmas, good health and good fortune, offer forgiveness, and look towards a New Year.

Make your own Oplatek wafer, use a cracker/cookie of your choice – or request a wafer from us.

Click here to learn more and register.

Druhna Chris: Memories

Druhna Lottie Fik was an amazing person. She was a great leader in the Polish Falcons of America. I am glad I was able to participate in the events that she planned and organized. As a youth in her gym class, I remember many events where Druhna had us out on a field in the beating sun getting ready for a mass exhibition for a Zlot. I remember holding my arms out at shoulder length for a long time – so that we would remember that when you did the National Drill, you had your arms at shoulder height and straight. We marched until we were about to drop over, but when we marched out on that field for the exhibition, we were a sight to see! Druhna was tough, but the events she planned were an important part of my youth, and I thank her for every single minute she put into making them a success.

I remember when Druhna would come to Pittsburgh for a District IV gym class to get everyone ready for the National Zlot. I was not a particularly good gymnast. I was not the first one picked to do special things on the mats or to be the center of the pyramid. In fact, I usually held someone else up doing something complicated and cool. But nevertheless, I would attend the practices when Druhna Fik would come. I never thought that she knew who I was or that I was a part of the gym class in Pittsburgh. It was just exciting being a part of the group.

Then a few years back, I was attending a National Bowling Tournament and I ran into Druhna Fik while I was there. I will never forget this moment because she made me feel so special. We both said hello and were riding the bus to the club, so we sat together. The thing that stuck with me the most was that she knew who I was and where I was from. She said, “So here is my Pittsburgh protégé taking over the National Instructress position. I am so proud of you.” I was so surprised to know that she knew who I was and that I was from Pittsburgh that I just beamed with pride and of course a few tears in my eyes. We rode the bus to the club, and she told me she was proud of me taking over and that she enjoyed seeing all the photos from the events I had already run.

It was not until I started working as the National Instructress that I realized how impressive Druhna Fik was. I know how hard and time consuming it is to get just a fraction of the people of the PFA organized and attending a Volleyball Tournament or a National Zlot or Camp for a week. She had many more participants whom she had to organize. She was always full of energy and happy to be at a Falcons event. I am so glad that I got to ride the bus with her at the Bowling Tournament and to know that she was proud of me! I am immensely proud to have had her as a mentor during my youth in the PFA gym classes.

VP Trish: The Falcon Seal

The emblem recognized as the official seal of the Polish Falcons of America was adopted by the organization in 1914. At the time, the emphasis of the Polish Falcons went beyond its traditional physical education activities among the youth, and into the mobilization of an army of Polish Americans prepared to fight for Poland’s independence in World War I.

In the emblem, the Falcon bird is shown breaking Poland’s chains of enslavement by use of arms. Behind the bird is a sword and bayoneted rifle. The physical education aspect of the organization is depicted by the dumbbells in the bird’s claws. To the left are the laurels of victory and to the right are the initials (ZSPwA), which stand for the original name of the organization – the Alliance of Polish Falcons in America (Zwiazek Sokolow Polskich w Ameryce). In the background is the burial mound in Krakow of Thaddeus Kosciuszko, the patron of the Polish Falcons. The mound is brightened by the sunshine of freedom.

The words in the circle surrounding the emblem, “Czolem Ojczynie Szponem Wrogowi,” translate to “Hail to the Fatherland — Talons to the Enemy,” one of the historic phrases of the Falcons.

The seal is a reminder to the Polish Falcons of today of their forefathers’ dedication to the principles of physical education, the love of their homeland — Poland, and their willingness to give their lives so that Poland may be free.

As time goes by, I am going to post information regarding the Polish Falcons that many of you may not know, or even if you do, will serve as a nice reminder.

This seal is my absolute favorite; I use it quite often.

I am hoping all goes well with the Districts in having their first (for most of us) virtual District Plenary Meeting.

A Bit of Insurance Lingo!

  • Insured – the benefit is on this person for when he/she passes away
  • Beneficiary – the person or persons who will receive the benefit (financial) when the insured passes away
  • Contingent Beneficiary – the person who will receive the benefit if both the insured and the primary beneficiary are deceased

Keep safe and healthy! Czolem!

Strawberry Recipes

Celebrate the final months of summer with these easy and delicious strawberry recipes by Robert Strybel, our Warsaw Correspondent.

Strawberries and Sour Cream (truskawki ze śmietaną): Hull, wash and drain 1 qt. ripe strawberries. Slice thin into a large bowl and sprinkle with several t. or T. (your choice to taste) granulated or confectioner’s sugar. Toss gently and let stand at room temperature (but not in direct sunlight) for 2 hours or more. Fill fruit bowls and top each portion with a dollop of sour cream (or top American-style with whipped cream).

Homemade Strawberry Soda (domowa oranżada truskawkowa): If using very ripe strawberries in the previous recipe, a good deal of syrup will form. You can drain it off and mix with cold club soda for a refreshing soft drink that is tastier and healthier than artificially flavored store-bought soda. Drop in a few whole strawberries for visual appeal.

Super-Easy Strawberry Torte (najłatwiejszy torcik truskawkowy): Even young children can prepare this dessert and have the satisfaction of saying, “I made it myself!” Prepare fruits as in Strawberries and Sour Cream recipe (optional: drain off syrup for use in homemade soda or as ice-cream topping). Spoon strawberries over plain store-bought sponge-cake and top with aerosol-type whipped cream. Decorate top with a few whole strawberries.

VP Trish: Making a Difference

Just about from the beginning of life, people (in addition to family members) make an impact on you. Quite often, these people are teachers but more for me were Falcon Leaders. Druhna Lottie Fik was someone who made a tremendous impact on me while growing up. (Many of you will agree!)

Back when I was young, we were afraid of authority figures. Druhna was not to be messed with but in time, one learned to respect her, not fear her.

Druhna Fik was truly an amazing woman way ahead of her time. In my opinion, she was very blessed to be married to Stanley (as he was to be married to her!). Think about this, in 1962 after 22 years of marriage and three children, Lottie became only the second woman to be a Chief Instructress of the Polish Falcons. This required quite a bit of travel!

Druhna held this position from 1962 until 1981. During this time, Druhna worked with three men – Edward Biestek (1960-1963), Gustav Pieprzyny(1963-1970) and Edmund Pett (1971-1981).

Back in those days, Druhna would write a new drill for each girls’ division every four years. Each National Zlot would have a new routine. These routines were beautiful and done to Polish music. My favorite is still the ball drill that we performed in 1972 at Notre Dame. I can remember Druhna giving the commands and counting in Polish. Marching was a big deal and I loved the way we marched!

Gymnastics was a major part of our program and Druhna wrote optional routines for each piece of equipment – high low bars, balance beam, vault and free-ex. Talk about creativity and talent.

Our National Drill has changed throughout the years. When Poland was still under Communist rule, the drill had only three rotations symbolically not facing the west. When we added the fourth turn, we needed to find an ending for the drill. At an Instructors’ meeting hosted by Druhna Marian Weslowski, we worked on the drill. Druhna Fik was there and suggested the ending that we still use.

It was always wonderful to spend time with Lottie, she always had a smile and was very supportive. Druhna even bowled in the National Bowling Tournaments. When Druhna Marian started National Camp in Angola, N.Y., Druhna Lottie was there helping with singing and dancing. Talk about dedicated! Druhna was 80 years old, sleeping on a cot in a cabin with several other women!

Even after Druhna retired, her involvement continued. She attended National Zlots helping with the youth Members from her Nest and District, as well as Instructors Clinics hosted by Druhna Marian. I have fond memories of Druhna calling me to discuss music and other things pertaining to the youth programs.

Even though most of us hadn’t seen Druhna in a while, so many of us still thought of her and asked about her often. Druhna Joan Beilfuss of Nest 907 (who spent many summers with Lottie) used to keep me posted. Obviously, her daughter Felicia and other family members would share Lottie stories.

Druhna Lottie’s legacy will live on. She was an amazing, strong wonderful woman who touched the lives of so many!

May Druhna Lottie rest in peace! Czolem!

PACCF Online Cultural Program

The Polish American Congress Charitable Foundation is sponsoring an Online Cultural Program for American teenagers, ages 13-17, in cooperation with the School of Polish Language and Culture at Jagiellonian University. The program will include 30 hours of Polish language, 20 hours of virtual sightseeing tours, cooking classes, Polish holiday traditions, song and dance, games and online quizzes.

Registrations must be received by June 10th and space is limited. For full details including eligibility and cost, please click here.