Saturday, 11 September 2010

Our Family

Some Photos

I've done a couple of wordy posts recently so I thought I'd add some pictures into the mix. Enjoy.

Throwing a Sickie

Well today I am unwell so I am in bed, snuggled under my lovely Cath Kidston duvet cover (I very cleverly bought one years ago in Ikea when the lovely lady wasn't so popular - I have good taste you see, lol) baby happily gurgling beside me, kids playing in their rooms across the landing (Indiana Jones is being evangelised by my 5 yr old as apparently he's much too fond of those stupid idols, lol) and dh holding the fort downstairs. Now that I am no longer vomiting incessantly (sorry tmi) I have a cup of tea on the bedside table and I am surfin', surfin', surfin'. I am slightly disappointed as I should have been meeting with friends for a sewing morning today, BUT reading blogs and finding online crafting sites is almost as good,... almost. Anyway, I thought that it might be nice to share some of my findings, thoughts and musings. So here goes.

I really like this free online magazine, Rhythm of the Home
I particularly like the fleece baby bootees in the Warmth section; would love to make these for Li-Li if I get the time. Also, it's given me the inspiration to start to live more seasonally again. Last year we had a lovely season table and did lots of seasonal crafts and activities; with the baby coming, however, we seem to have ground to rather a halt. Our summer season table has been a rather pathetic offering of some colourful bunting draped around our season tree ( a branch set in air drying clay in a vase). Am definitely going to get into the autumn spirit now.

Jackie over at Hedgerow Ways posted a couple of lovely links this week. The first was Farmama. Wow this lady farmer/farmer's wife is so awesome. Her veggie growing/ preserving and crafting is so inspiring. Loving her log cabin quilt. The site which has really inspired me, though, is Plain and Joyful Living and it's ideas for Handmade Holidays. I made lots of my Christmas presents last year and had intended to do one or two a month this year to avoid the last minute mad rush. Hmmmm, then I had a baby. So I must get started soon in order to avoid pointless novelty gifts from the high street. There are lots of gift ideas on the blog but the idea I like the best is to have a Handmade Holidays notebook. You can find out about it here.
I am definitely going to start one. I have found lots of gift ideas on Wee Folk Art which are lovely.

Anyway, the baby is now nursing, and I seem to have grown a nine year old boy on my elbow.

Blessings to you all.

Friday, 3 September 2010

An Award

The lovely Jackie at Hedgerow Ways and Fireside Days has given me an award. Something about being versatile, which is nice. Anyway, now I have to tell you seven things about myself. So here goes.

1) I love curry. Vegetable Biryani is my absolute fave and when I was pregnant, Phil only had to ring the local curry house and ask for 'the usual' as I ate it so often. They had a buy one main course and get one free offer on and we really did take advantage of it.
2) My favourite ever book (apart from the Bible, obviously) is Anne of Green Gables. As a younger person I actually died my hair red because I wanted to be Anne so much. How sad is that?! If I had money I would be one of those eccentric ladies who collect Anne memorabilia; there are, I have found, many websites out there which sell such wonderous items. Ooh, I'd just love an Anne doll. If I am ill I eat tomato soup on the sofa, snuggled under my duvet and watch all my Anne videos one after the other; it cheers me up no end. This is by far my saddest online admission ever.
3) My house is sooooooooo untidy but I am trying to overcome it with planning and organisation. Lol.
4) I love cheesy low brow tv such as 'Four Weddings' and 'Come Dine with Me'. When you are the type of person who would happily buy an 'Anne' doll, other people's lives are very interesting. Lol.
5) I love to sing. I make everything into a song, particularly with the little people in my family. We have a nappy changing song, a tidying song, an I love you song,... it goes on. My older children hate my singing and think I'm bonkers.
6) I love museums and art galleries. My favourites are The National Gallery and The Museum of London. I once got shushed in the Courtald Gallery for enthusing over a lovely impressionist painting too enthusiastically to my then 2 year old.
7) I am a secret Royalist and will have a party with Union Jacks, jelly and ice-cream when Will and Kate wed.

That's it. Seven things about me.
I pass this blog award on to:
Leah at Homegrown Babies
A very versatile lady who is always striving to know God more and 'walk the talk'.
Sarah at A Mother's Heart
Another Godly girl who is forever seeking to hone her family life for God's glory.
Claire at Now We are Six
Claire is very versatile and is always learning new crafts and astounding me with how quickly and competently she picks them up.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Homemaking for Dummies

Okay, so I have a deep desire to be a homemaking goddess in the non-heretical kind of way. I love home decorating, love cooking, even love cleaning. I just need to somehow get it all together and become a domestic diva with a house which wouldn't look out of place in Country Living. That is the hard part. I do try. I hardly ever sit down. I am busy, busy, busy. I cook, I clean, I do all kind of homemakingey type jobs,... all to no avail. At this current moment I have given in. The washing up is piled in the sink, the floor is covered in crumbs and I am way too tired to care. All week I've stayed up until after 11pm tidying and cleaning so that when we rise the next day we will go downstairs to a haven of cleanliness and orderliness. Tonight, however, the energy has escaped me and I just can't be bothered.

In a bid to overcome this situation occuring on a regular basis, I am trying hard to get organised. I have bought myself a lovely pink binder which will become my 'Home Management Binder'. So far it has a calendar to the end of the year, a weekly planner, a home ed planning section and a recipe and meal planning section. I am working on the chores section and have laminated some chore cards for the boys which will live in map cases I purchased from Poundland. They have an opaque section and a transparent section. Each child will have a selection of chore cards in the opaque section and I will bring forward the cards for each day into the transparent section. I am paying them in beans, which will then be traded in at the rate of 1p each. I am hoping that this will alleviate some of my jobs and help the house run more smoothly.

The thing I am really enjoying is getting back to the meal planning. I am currently using the More with Less Cookbook which is a frugal cookbook produced by a group of Mennonite Christians. I have to say that I am loving it. All the recipes are super simple yet delicious and nutritious. Even the boys have eaten them without too much complaining.

I am also dreaming of revamping my dining/family room and have purchased a lovely green and white spotty oilcloth to protect my table as inspiration. I am going for a Cath Kidston meets attic 24 look. All girly and floral but bright and cheerful too. It is all a long way off, but at least I can dream. In the meantime, I am crocheting a granny stripe blanket to cover some of the felt pen marks on my lovely Laura Ashley sofa.

I grew up in a fairly chaotic single parent home. It wasn't my mum's fault; she worked all hours to provide, but it was pretty bleak at times nevertheless. Consequently, I am determined to provide a different experience for my boys. It is very difficult because of my lack of previous experience BUT I know that it is very important and that "I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me" Philippians 4:13. By his grace I will succeed; if you have a moment, please pray for me and those like me, who are pioneers in this strange but wonderful country.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

New Title

So I've given my blog a new title. I decided that it more aptly described what I want to do with this blog than 'Jo's Boys'. The blog will continue to be about my boys, with photos for all you lovely rellies and friends who call in to see how we are getting on. However, I really want to focus on the joys and difficulties of being a first generation Christian mother. I have not had an easy past. I did not know God until I was in my early twenties and my life previous to that time was far from Godly. This has left me with many issues and struggles as I walk with faith the path God has given me in raising my mighty boys of God. I am a pioneer. The landscape is unfamiliar, and sometimes even dangerous. Our journey is tiring and full of apprehension. And yet there is hope. Our God is the great redeemer. Wisdom and understanding is bountiful in his word. His spirit guides and helps us. What an adventure. I hope you will share it with us.
Ed is always ready for an adventure.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Days of Elijah

Baby Elijah Wesley was born on 2nd May @ 3-06am weighing 8lbs 5.5oz.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Honest Scrap Awards - did I give you one?!

The lovely Leah at Homegrown Babies has given me a lovely Honest Scrap award. The rules of this are that I have to share 10 honest things about myself and then pass the award on to 10 other bloggers.

So here goes with the honesty.

1. I didn't really enjoy my childhood. There are a hundred reasons why, which I won't go into, but the result of it is that mothering sometimes comes as something of a challenge to me.

2. Despite all the challenges it poses for me, I am absolutely passionate about mothering and becoming the mother God wants me to be. BUT I don't have regular aspirations for my kids. I have no interest in their being successful academically, financially, socially etc. What I want for them more than anything is that they follow God and fulfil his purpose for their lives. I love the quote from Suzannah Wesley that she dedicated the entirety of twenty years to the salvation of her children's souls. That's my ultimate aim for motherhood.

3. I met my husband on a Uni exchange to Innsbruck, Austria. He was a lapsed Christian and I was a wayward student. We did everything that we weren't supposed to do but we embarked upon a journey of faith together along the way. That was 16 years ago and this year we've been married for 13 of those. Thank God that we began our married life in love with Him as well as each other. We've had some tough and rocky times together but I can honestly say that I love him now more than ever. He showed me what the love of Jesus looked like in a way that no-one else ever had. I thank God for him every day.

4. I'm a bit of a useless vegan; I often pinch the odd Haribo from the kids.

5. I have a terrible inferiority complex. LOL!

6. I've never had better friends in my whole life than I have now. They give me such love and support; they are true examples of Christlike friendship. Thank you guys.

7. I try to be as green as possible in all my cleaning products, but I'm a bit addicted to Carpet Power, because with three small boys and a cream lounge carpet, I don't know what I'd do without it.

8. I love Poundland. (Horrible I know).

9. I also love chintz so I won't be chucking any out. Sorry IKEA. In fact, the 1980s Laura Ashley look is my favourite interior style.

10. I'm not a very conservative Christian. There are lots of things about Christian conservatism that appeal to me but I have to admit that I have lots of liberal tendencies. I have a great deal of sympathy with the Palestinians, I wear trousers quite alot, I am trying to use grace-based discipline with my children because I just found smacking didn't work at all for us, I have a lot to thank the welfare state for having grown up in a single parent family. I could go on.

Well, there you go. 10 honest things about me. Hope you still want to read my blog after that.

I pass on the Honest Scrap award to:
Jackie at Hedgerow Ways and Fireside Days
Esther at Hands and Hearts Together
Clare at Now we are Six
Sarah at A Mother's Heart
Hazel at Living and Mothering in a Village in West Yorks
Jenny at Homeschooling Nine Kids
Pippa at When I get the time
Wendy at Sunnyside Acre
Clair at Little Rainbows
Sharon at Diary of a Housewife

I hope no-one is cross that I didn't give them one. I think everyone deserves an award really; I get so much inspiration for reading all your lovely blogs.

Thank you to Leah!!!!!


Friday, 16 April 2010

A Quick Update

Just to let you know that I'm still here. My lack of blogging is primarily due to the cleaning mania with which I have been gripped for the past few weeks. Funny thing is, though, that despite all my dusting and vaccuming and wiping, the place still looks grotty. I have a suspicion that three small boys might have something to do with that. Lol! Also, our computer is well and truly jiggered, and given our complete lack of funds, I am having to do with Phil's work laptop whenever he can spare it. We are hoping to acquire a second hand FREE laptop reasonably soon so I'll be able to upload photos then, as I can't upload anything onto Phil's.

I am getting rather fed up of waiting for baby and also having all sorts of doubts about how we will manage emotionally and financially. Sadly, our finances have taken an even darker turn and it's difficult to know how having an extra person to clothe and feed will affect things. I pray and believe that God will provide, that's all I can do. And then there's the doubts about our parenting ability; can we do this? I know that when LO arrives all these doubts will fade into nothing but right now they seem very real. I think it's just the waiting getting to me. I keep having the odd very stron bh, and even the odd bout of regular contractions, but then nothing. Well baby can't stay in there forever, can he? Or she? Is anyone taking bets? My money's on another boy but I could be wrong. Hope we find out soon.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Not feeling so good today

So my feelings of how wonderful the simple life are have disappeared, to be replaced by despair, envy and bitterness. None of these characteristics represent the person I want to be, and yet at the moment I feel held captive to my negative emotions and all I want to do is cry and feel how life is not fair. I think it could be the hormones mixed with tiredness but I can't seem to rationalise it at all. The thing which really upset me was volunteering to sing at a church event yesterday and baking cakes to accompany the soiree. Thing is, when I got there the place was massively busy with nowhere to sit AND cakes and drinks were being sold as a fundraiser. Now, I was happy to donate my time and culinary efforts to this event. It was a good cause. BUT, I had not a single penny in my purse, and three sweet toothed children by my side. I just couldn't take it and ended up leaving the children with a friend (who so kindly bought cakes for them) and going home and crying for an hour on the sofa. How pathetic?! I am such a sad case. I am trying to believe that things will improve, but it is hard to see at the moment. And I need to apologise to the choir leader for leaving her in the lurch, but I just can't bring myself to even broach the subject. Every time I think about it I just want to cry. I guess it's the hormones. Never mind, not long now.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Treasure in Heaven

So, we are broke. Totally broke. Don't ask me why; it's a long story and I don't want pity so I shan't recount it. I just wanted to reflect on the situation, and draw some positives from it.

I used to work full time as a teacher. I had lots of disposable cash. My child wore clothes from Gap and Next and we had nice holidays and nice things. BUT, he spent his days with a childminder and was fairly miserable to say the least. I, meanwhile, was consumed by guilt. If I kept on working my child was suffering; if I gave up work it was a waste of everything I'd achieved in terms of my education and escape from council estate poverty. In the end work broke me and, pregnant with baby number two, I gave up my job and stayed home.

And here I am now, home educating three boys and having less money than I've ever had in my whole life. But, in between the bouts of horror about paying bills and eeking out our food budget, I am also happier than I've ever been before. It's quite freeing to live outside of our consumer society; to not have the option of shopping in mainstream outlets. It's incredibly freeing to have a menu plan for each week and know what I'm cooking each day. But most of all, I know that all the 'stuff' I could have if I were a working mom is just temporal garbage which would end up on a landfill site some time in the future. My children, on the other hand, have eternal souls which will live with God forever. This said, how much better to spend my time and effort in helping them to grow in education, character and faith, than spending my time and money in the local shopping centre. I really do believe that what Satan means for our downfall can be used by God for our ultimate good, just like in the Old Testament story of Joseph, and also according to Romans 8:28:

King James BibleAnd we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I can honestly say that we've had some pretty awful times on the way to where we are now. Times I would have done anything to avoid if I'd had foreknowledge of them. I didn't want to be who I am now; I wanted to be the woman who had everything; a supermum; glamorous, capable, wealthy, envied by all. But God had other ideas, and boy am I grateful that he did. When I look back at who I was then I am pretty horrified. Don't get me wrong. I am sooooooooooooo not the person he ultimately wants me to be; I still have a considerable way to go,... but, I am trying to walk with him and be guided by him in my daily life. I am sure that there will be tough times ahead but I also know that God will use them to mould and shape me for his purpose, and that his overall plan for me is a good one.

Praise Him.

Jo x

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Pancakes and etc

We had a fairly low key Valentines celebration here. We made some decorations. The boys went earlyish to bed. Mummy and Daddy had their favourite Indian takeaway. And then Mummy was sick. I'm not sure whether the curry was dodgy or my heavily pregnant body just didn't like it, but it involved a whole day rushing between bed and bathroom. Not nice. Also fairly wierd since curry has been one of my major cravings in previous pregnancies.

Anyway, we were back on track for Shrove Tuesday when we spent alot of time talking about Jesus' baptism and confessing our sins, before tucking into a terribly sinful treat of vegan pancakes, melted chocolate, syrup, strawberries and fresh cream and ice cream for the non vegan types. Yummy. We have now given up cakes for Lent. So far so good but I have a feeling it could get difficult.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Slow Cooker

I just wanted to say, for the record, how much I love my slow cooker. Made vegetable dahl today to take to my sister's tomorrow as she doesn't really do vegan catering, bless her (who does?). I've had to do minimal actual cooking in order to prepare this tasty dish. Just a bit of chopping here, a sprinkle of spices there and a temperature adjustment or two along the way. Marvellous. Trouble is, I'm really good at making anything with lentils in it, but not so good at anything else. LOL. All slow cooker tips greatly appreciated.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Menu Planning Update

So far, so good. It's Thursday and so far this week we have stuck to plan. We are eating sooo well. Lots of veggies and salads, and I've managed not to buy ANY supermarket bread. Hurrah. Favourite meals so far include tonight's chilli bean bake (although tasty it did fall apart rather) and last week's home made pesto. My weekly shop came in at just under £60 for a family of five. I have to say that this no longer includes organic as our current financial situation won't allow for that wonderful luxury. I do miss it but also feel liberated at not having to stick to what was in the box. At the end of the day, I will do the best I can for my family with the money I have available to me and, as for the horrid pesticides and fertilisers, I am having to trust God with my children's health. He is, after all, supreme.

Getting ready for baby

Ihave approximately nine weeks until my due date. Arrrrggghhhh! For ages I haven't thought about the littlie growing inside of me. I've talked about it vaguely with the children, and said vague prayers of blessing, but I've honestly been so busy with the other 'present' children that the imminency of our impending arrival hadn't dawned upon me. Anyway, I am now being shaken into reality. I have the outline of little feet appearing on my stomach, and my insides feel like the spin cycle of a 1600 rpm washing machine. There is definitely a baby in there. It is growing fast and will soon make an appearance. With this in mind I ordered some Tots Bot first size nappies from a lovely lady on GP forum and, from another lady, ordered some lovely flannel and terry fabric to make some more. I have even rewaterproofed my newborn wraps. The John Lewis sale provided me with a lovely organic daysuit, and I am 2/3 of the way through knitting a cardigan. All I need to do now is get everything out of the loft and wash/clean it. What fun!

You'll notice the picture of Will with his baby doll being ever so gentle (not)! We gave him the doll to get him used to the idea of having a baby, but apart from a few kisses and cuddles, the poor wee thing is tossed about from here to there. And if anyone other than Will dare to come to Mummy for a snuggle then the Lord help them (and I mean that, I'm not taking His name in vain here) for they are pinched, hit, bitten and headbutted. Slightly concerned about this, I have to admit, but I'm sure it will be alright on the night, as they say.


We used to be autonomous home educators but, for various reasons, we decided about six months ago to introduce some structure and learning goals into our HE agenda. I'm sorry to say, though, that I went rather overboard in some areas and am now having to back off a little. Four year old Ed really seemed to show a lot of reading readiness, so I purchased the book 'Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons'. Now I don't mean to disrespect the book, as it may work very well for some children; for us, however, it was a nightmare. We did all of six lessons before Ed told me that 'reading is boring' and I quickly shelved it in horror before heading into a massive panic about what I was going to do with him now. Anyway, I needn't have worried for it seems that Ed is reading ready, but he needs a more hands on, interactive approach. He woke up this morning, grabbed some bath letters he received as a Christmas pressie and told me we were doing some letter work.
We had such fun. We talked about vowels and consonants and that you really need some of both in order to make a word. (He kept making strings of consonants and saying 'what does this say, mummy?') Then I put together some VC combinations such as 'at/in/ot' and made up stories about them sitting on a park bench together and along came 'f' who said, 'I wonder what would happen if I sat down with 'at' and joined my sound to them?' He was actually reading CVCs and enjoying every minute. Of course, being Ed, he then went on to make up some very random 'letter stories' involving death, destruction and Indiana Jones. But hey, I totally feel that we're making progress. In contrast, I have to say that he really enjoys his maths workbook and can write down the answers of problems up to the sum of ten. Wierd, we are two English graduates with two maths/science orientated children. I have to say, though, that mathsy or not, he is loving 'The Horse and his Boy', our bedtime readaloud. I'll make him a literature fan one way or the other. LOL!!!

Monday, 8 February 2010

Creative Playtime

After a morning supermarket shopping which culminated with some horrid tantrums from Ed and Mummy on our return, the boys really enjoyed some creative play this afternoon. They rearranged the dining room chairs into a castle configuration and, along with the help of some baby toys which were utilised as a control panel, made a spaceship underneath the table. I realise that there's an anachronism going on here but, hey, who cares when you're having fun. Please excuse the hideous, smelly dummy. He's had it since he decided to give up bfing at 14 months and I am finding it impossible to get rid of. Arrrrggggghhhh!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Blessings in Brokeness

Brokeness is not something we normally celebrate. In fact, in today's consumer driven society we cast away the broken without a thought, replacing it with a newer, pristine version. But the Bible is clear that God will not despise 'a broken and contrite heart' (Psalm 51:17 NIV). In fact, when we look throughout the Bible it is apparent that brokeness is indeed the perfect starting point for blessing. Isaiah is particularly rich in images of the Father taking that which is barren and reinvigorating it:
'I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.' Isaiah 43:19 NIV
'...To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning...' Isaiah 61:3 NLT

In a way we are all broken; we all come into the world with the imprint of sin upon us and, as such, are equally in need of His restorative touch. For some, however, brokeness becomes who we are. We have broken hearts, minds or bodies, and that brokeness seems to become our identity. Sadly, the world is not a friendly place for the broken. It is a place where euthanasia is becoming an increasingly acceptable way to deal with the brokeness of chronic illness. It is a place where babies are denied the right to life because they have 'broken' chromosomes. It is a place where the brokeness of mental illness is stigmatised and feared. And one can only ask, where is God in the midst of all this brokeness? What is he doing about it? I am not a theologian. I can't give you answers filled with scriptural wisdom. I can only reflect on what I observe in my own life and the lives of those whose stories have touched my own.

The boys have a young friend with microcephaly. His brain does not work in quite the same way as mine or yours. He may never grow beyond the capacities of a small child. Society considers him broken. And yet, Jesus was quite clear that we must 'change and become like little children' in order to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3). So one might ask who it is that has the disadvantage in life? I suppose it depends how you perceive success. If life is measured in terms of financial reward and physical independence, then it is surely we who have the advantage. BUT, I truly believe in the opening words of the Westminster catechism that man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. And this young man, with his childish joy and faith, emmanates God's glory in a way that most adults never could. So surely, it is we who are the broken ones, our innocence smashed by rationalism and worldly desires.

In my life I have had two friends with quite severe mental health problems. Their lives have been acutely affected by mental illness. They have operated under constraints which the average Joe Public has no knowledge of. Such a shame. What a waste. Is that how God would have us respond? Truly, I have never known such brave and determined folk as these. Campaigning against injustices, spreading the gospel despite many setbacks and much criticism. Overcoming gossip and rejection. Trusting in God against all the odds.

One of these friends died suddenly several years ago. At the time I felt very angry with God that he had never healed this young man. He had not married, not been able to find employment, had lived alone in a council flat. Why would God not have healed him so that he was able to enjoy the things that we take for granted? After all, he came to give 'life in all its fullness' didn't he?! (John 10:10) I have to admit that I have not quite reconciled this question in my own heart; it will certainly be one of the things I ask God when I finally stand face to face with him. What I can say, however, is that my friend was never mediocre, never nominal, never overcome by worldliness. He was on fire for God. He had to be. God was his medicine, his sanity, his lifeline. So was he broken or was he blessed? I will share with you the scripture that was read at his funeral, and let you decide.

'We have this treasure from God. But we are only like clay jars that hold the treasure. This shows that this great power is from God, not from us. We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We do not know what to do, but we do not give up. We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed. We carry the death of Jesus in our own bodies, so that the life of Jesus can also be seen in our bodies.'
2 Corinthians 4: 7-10

An email acquaintance of mine has the following tagline: 'Blessed are the broken, for they let out the light'. Sometimes we hide because we are broken, or we hide our brokeness behind all kind of worldly garments such as career or homemaking. But our brokeness can be a blessing, if we will just embrace it and cry out to God, asking that his light would shine through our cracks, transforming a broken pot into an agent of grace and glory.


In our current financial crisis (note - current - they happen fairly frequently) I am trying to save money by being savvy with my meal planning. I am planning a weekly menu and only buying the ingredients and items needed for that week. I have to say I feel so much peace about it, having previously been a wait 'til 4pm and then start raiding cupboards and praying for inspiration. Also, we spent about £20 less on groceries this week, which is an added bonus. The children are not so enthused about my plan since to be honest I had become rather lazy and was beginning to rely rather on convenience foods, so now they have to eat real honest tucker. Not popular, I can tell you. I am trying to include a few favourites of theirs in the mix too, so they don't feel so badly done to. Anyway, I thought I'd share my meal plan for next week and see what you think.


Penne rigate with sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts

French bread


(from Vegan Feasts by Rose Elliot)


Spiced potato turnovers


Colourful bean salad

(Vegan Feasts)


Barley and lentil savoury

Fresh bread


(from Easy Vegan Cooking by Leah Leneman)


Chilli bean roast with tomato sauce

Jacket spuds


(Easy Vegan Cooking)


Homemade Pizza

(from Jo's imagination)


Mixed veg dahl


(Vegan Feasts)


Vegan toad in the hole

Roast veggies and spuds

(Easy Vegan Cooking)

I'm going to make some puddings as well, which will be interspersed with fruit and yogurt for the sake of all our figures. I'll be making

Bread and butter pudding

Strawberry shortcake

Date and pecan cake



Lunches will be a mixture of

Jacket spuds with beans/cheese for the non-vegans/hummous + salad


Filled pitta

Homemade soup

I am also trying hard to bake more of my own bread but this is something I need to work very hard at as I find it hard to fit into the day.

I guess you might say I'm nesting BUT I still can't get my butt into gear and wash any baby clothes or think about what I might need for this littlie. Help, only 10 and a bit weeks to go.

Lego Boy

Our eldest son absolutely adores Lego. He spends every spare minute either building models or using his limited computer time to play Lego Indiana Jones or peruse the Lego website. So I thought I'd include some pics of him with his latest creations. Bless him.


Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Some London Pics

We recently enjoyed a family trip to London. Enjoy is rather a creative term really, as I was ill for most of the time we were there. Anyway, here are a few pics from everyone's favourite visitor attraction: The Imperial War Museum. Fabulous. So educational. If you are over 14 the Holocaust Exhibition is a must,... lest we forget.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010


We had a lovely day today celebrating Candlemas. We started off this morning reading the story of Jesus' dedication in the temple and relating it to the annual blessing of church candles because He is the light of the world. This afternoon we made lemon cakes and cookies as celebration desserts, and painted empty glass jars for our candle table centrepiece. A lovely day. I sooo love the rhythm of celebrating feast days and festivals. Now looking forward to St Valentine's Day, especially as I bought some bargain heart shaped cake tins for £1.20 each yesterday. Too many cakes though; not really great for my expanding figure. Lol!!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

A Snowy Adventure

It was all fairly Biblical really. Mary and Jo were on a journey. A baby was expected. They needed a place to stay. Danger was encountered. And there were angels....

The snow had started as we were driving northwards on the motorway, reinforcing the popular held belief that it is, in fact, grim up north. Steady at first, it reminded me of a swirling mass of dandelion seeds, dancing gently on a summer’s breeze. Only much colder. As we progressed, however, it became the kind of heavy, inexorable snowstorm that constitutes driving hell. Regardless, we ploughed forwards and were able to fulfil our intended purpose before beginning to head home. Then it happened,... we were stuck.

Not just any old stuck, you understand, but stuck in a most
inconvenient manner in the middle of the road. Passers by looked on and hasty prayers were said. And then, out of the snow, two middle aged, bearded and be-hatted northern blokes came to our rescue. Pushing us effortlessly out of the snow drift in which we had become stuck, back onto the navigable part of the carriageway, they could only be angels. Angels, of course, can come in either human or celestial form, and which of the two these gentlemen were I would not like to say. This I do know, however; they were sent by our heavenly Father to help us in a time of need, and we blessed them wholeheartedly and praised God for his mercy and provision as we crept gingerly forwards, bound for home.

It wasn’t long before we were calling for heavenly help and assistance once more. As we approached the brow of a remote rural hill, headed towards the Southbound motorway, we began to slide downwards, out of control in the direction of the roadside barrier. We didn’t hit the barrier with much force but were now completely off the road in the middle of nowhere in a freezing blizzard. Ever the pessimist, thoughts crossed my mind of walking miles to find help and dying of hypothermia along the way. Oh help us God. And surely help came.

A red truck came over the brow of the hill and slowly pulled up behind us. Two men got out of the cab. Middle aged, bearded and be-hatted chaps with a distinct northern twang. Could it be the same men as before? Surely the snow was playing havoc with our sensibilities, but once more our angel helpers achieved the seemingly impossible. They pushed the car, initially embedded in a snowdrift and rammed firm against the barrier, back onto the road. And then they were gone.

Having given up on our quest to get home we now sought a place of refuge overnight. We had a couple more hairy incidents along the way but God protected us and guided us to safety. I have to say that it wasn’t the most pleasant journey I’ve ever made but probably the one from which I’ve learned most. I knew in my heart, all along, that God would take care of us if we trusted him. I felt that the journey was a bit like life. If we place ourselves in God’s hands we will be safe. We will still have to go through difficult and challenging times, and sometimes it will seem as though we are heading off course, veering out of control, or stranded by the wayside. But he will never leave us or forsake us. When, shortly after arriving at our destination, I was moaning to God about some other difficulty in life (how quickly my gratitude and faith can turn to doubt and grumbling) he very clearly told me that if he would bring me through this transient, physical snowstorm how much more would he bring me through life’s literal storms. And what did I reply? Amen to that.

In postscript, I would just like to thank everyone for their prayers, texts and kindness during our snowy adventure, and Rosemary for her exemplary child-minding skills. Thank you. It must also be noted that our esteemed minister managed to get to work every day throughout the cold snap,... and without using his car. Well done Stuart!!!