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!!