Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Reading pleasures

Mrs Morecraft has written an article which beings joy to the heart of this book lover. Her lists of children's books are worth perusing-some of my favourites and some others that will go on the wanted list.
She recalls having her family read to her as a child. The sort of memories that I want to create for my children and that my Mother gave me. There is something special in reading the same books to another generation.
If you read aloud to your little ones, you really ought to read this.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Our thanksgiving

This half term, the children and I have been learning about the Stewart monarchs. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had postponed this so that we could celebrate Guy Fawkes night and Thanksgiving whilst we were learning about the Stewarts.

We had never celebrated an American style thanksgiving before but thought we would try! So we had a thanksgiving jar for collecting slips of paper on which we wrote the things for which we are thankful. I must say that thinking about the many things for which I have to be thankful, cheered up the otherwise miserable last weekend when most of us were ill with a virus.

We read about the Pilgrim Fathers, in prose and poetry, and  had a Thanksgiving meal.
Sweet potato casserole:
and veg:
I chickened out of making punpkin pie and used some of our apple store, for which we are very thankful, to make an apple pie.

"O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever." Psalm 107 v 1

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Getting it done with little ones

I guess that many people struggle cooking with the "help" of their little ones. Having older children, I can see that it was good to have gone through the difficult phase as they are great helpers and even independent cooks. It still doesn't make that early phase any easier so I was delighted to have read this series by Trina. The latest article talks about the thorny subject of more than one helper-well worth a read.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Jesus is precious

I re-found this hymn, in a copy of Steven's hymns, that my Grandmother had given to her Mother in 1923 although I do remember it being used when I was a child.
The hymn is by Samuel Medley who, like John Newton, was a sailor, and an unbeliever. After an injury, he became ill with gangrene in his leg and it was feared that he might lose his leg or die. This event made him think about spiritual things but he came to trust that the Lord Jesus had died for his sins, after hearing his Grandfather read a sermon, by Isaac Watts.

Unto you therefore which believe he is precious 1 Peter 2 v7
Jesus is precious, says the word;
What comfort does this truth afford!
And those who in his name believe,
With joy this precious truth receive.

To them he is more precious far
Than life and all its comforts are;
More precious than their daily food;
More precious than their vital blood.

Not health, nor wealth, nor sounding fame,
Nor earth's deceitful, empty name,
With all its pomp and all its glare,
Can with a precious Christ compare.

He's precious in his precious blood,
That pardoning and soul-cleansing flood;
He's precious in his righteousness,
That everlasting, heavenly dress.

In every office he sustains,
In every victory he gains
In every counsel of his will,
He's precious to his people still.

As they draw near their journey's end,
How precious is their heavenly Friend!
And when in death they bow their head,
He's precious on a dying bed.

In glory, Lord, may I be found,
And, with thy precious mercy crowned,
Join the glad song, and there adore
A precious Christ for evermore.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Iron sharpeneth iron

"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." Proverbs 27 v17

I thought of this verse today.
Three local Christian home educating families met. None us had met before a couple of weeks ago.
The children spent time doing art, dressing up and enjoying being together.
Salad spinner art. All my art ideas are from others-I borrowed this one from Anna at The Imagination Tree.
Badge cards-idea from Mister Maker, watched on BBCiplayer!
I found so much cause for thanksgiving in my meeting with the Mums. They've shared practical thoughts, with two curriculum sites to explore and a great idea to inspire French learning. I can't wait to try bagels with bacon and maple syrup for breakfast and yes, I am going to be brave and get the pressure cooker out again.
Thank you, ladies.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Amazon and bookshops

After recently publicity about Amazon stocking books of a distinctly family unfriendly nature, I've had a think about my affiliate bookshop and decided to close it down.
I don't want to be promoting an organisation which has offered products which are an antithesis of all I believe to be right.
Having said that, I may still buy occasional books, especially when I can't get them elsewhere, but I don't want to be promoting the organisation.
This leads to a practical problem. I like the books that I've had in my affiliate store and would still like to have lists of these up. My plan is to have a page for these and also for links to my bookshop recommendations. These are recommendations and not affiliate links.
Anyway, my current bookshop recommendations are
Metroplitan Tabernacle bookshop sells a good range of Christian books at competitive prices.
Conquest Books has a wide range of home education books plus plenty of children's books including the lovely picture books by Johannah Bluedorn. They are very helpful and books arrive very quickly.
The Christian bookshop Ossett is owned by Jeremy and Lorna Roe. They are great at ordering books, recommendations. Lorna runs a ladies' reading list which I'm hoping to join in the New Year.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

My favourite books-part 1

I realised that I've written about the books that the children enjoy but not about my own much loved books.

My husband and I both love books. I don't know how many we have; I occasionally get rid of some so we only have thirteen bookcases. The cookery books in the kitchen don't really count nor do the books on shelves in a wardrobe. Books are more important than clothes, of course.

Most of the children seem to have inherited the book gene. We found our youngest sitting on the kitchen floor, by the wellington boots, with some books, the other day. We've probably made a rod for our own backs with reading in the evening. We read and pray with the little ones individually then read them various books-it starts with one or two but one or two baby books aren't many so we read a few more and end up with children bringing us a pile of books. I left Mr Exhuberance this evening to the cry of "More books".

Anyway, here is a small sample of my favourites. Many are easier to find second hand-it seems silly to be constrained by whether a book is in print or not. Many of the best books have been found in second hand shops or came from my Grandparent's home.

The best book, as the chorus says, is of course, the Bible. It is in a completely different league to the rest being God's inspired word. I will only comment on the peripherals. We use the Authorised (King James' Version) mainly on textural grounds. Being Varifocal Mum, I like a Bible with large print. My current favourite is the Concord Edition from the Trinitarian Bible Society.

Perhaps the most exciting and least well known Christian history book is Axminster Ecclesiastica.
This is the church book of a persecuted non-conformist church in Devon in the years prior to the Glorious Revolution of 1688. It is a great read with some amazing stories of escapes.
I suspect that it suffers from its Latin title. It was edited by the late KWH Howard whose ministry I found very helpful, as a teenager, when he pastored Union Chapel, at Bethersden. When I outgrew the Sunday School, at the church I attended with my parents, I used to cycle to Bethersden where my Grandmother was in membership. As a young Christian, Mr Howard's ministry was searching and helpful and I looked forward to those Sunday afternoons,all week. Mr Howard was a scholar and could never have been accused of being glitzy. Sadly, the book could have benefitted from a more snappy title.
Christian Bookshop Ossett stock more of Mr Howard's works and are a great bookshop, prepared to order books in or give recommendations.

Completely different and about the other side of the world is a book called Thousand Miles of Miracle in China.

This is the hair-raising story of the escape of a young missionary couple with their two young children and a single lady missionary from China at the time of the Boxer Revolution. I read this as a child, and enjoyed it but read it again after I had children. Second time round, I couldn't put the book down and read into the early hours.. The thought of all the hardship and danger with little children and whilst Mrs Glover was pregnant was amazing.

I have many more to write about but no time now so hope to post more on another occasion.
Please feel free to recommend your favourites-it is great to discover new books.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Grandma's Christmas pudding

Most years, I make my own Christmas pudding.

My husband is sensitive to red wine pigments so if we have a brought pudding we choose between him being ill or a poor quality pudding. In our experience, which isn't great, we gave up after a couple of samplings, non-alcoholic Christmas puddings contain inferior ingredients.

The recipe that I use came from my Grandmother who was given it by a friend. I don't think it is especially old as you will see from the ingredients. I've modified it a bit. This is what I call a "forgiving recipe". A forgiving recipe is one where many of the ingredients can easily be substituted for something else without a poor outcome! My children know that I often talk about "forgiving recipes".

The ingredients are all in Imperial measurements as the recipe doesn't give anything else. This converter helps with changing ingredients to metric or American cups. I usually cook in Imperial and thought that this was just because I'm old but recently found that my elder daughter also cooks in Imperial. Having cooked with my younger daughter, a few days later, I realised that it was much easier to ask her to find the 4oz or 8oz marks than the line three markings after the 100g. Over a few years, this probably becomes a habit.

1/2lb currants
1/2lb sultanas
1/2lb mixed peel
3 apples
1/2lb raisins
1/2lb cherries (I use rinse in hot water to remove the syrup from glace cherries)
1/4lb apricots or prunes-chopped
Large mixing bowl
Most of the dried fruit can be substituted as you wish. Grated carrots can be used instead of apples-we have lots of apples so I don't alter this.
Nuts can be used instead of 1/4lb dried fruit.

Method (1)
Soak the fruit in stout/coco-cola/orange juice over night. Stir from time to time.

We use orange juice. Not sure what the coco-cola would taste like. Sounds strange to me.

Next day, drain off excess juice. Don't throw the juice away-use it to soak the bread for bread and butter pudding. This makes the most excellent bread and butter pud.

Ingredients-day 2
6oz brown sugar
7oz self raising flour
3 large eggs
7oz bread crumbs
8oz vegetable suet
1 heaped teaspoonful of mixed spice

Method (2)
Mix fruit and dry ingredients-add wineglass of rum or sherry or orange juice. Mix well-not easy as the bowl is likely to be very full.
Place in 1 and 2lb pudding basins, cover with greaseproof paper followed by foil and tie with string.
Traditionally, these were boiled for hours in the kitchen which meant constant checking to ensure they didn't dry out and burn the saucepan. My Mother's generation used pressure cookers,maybe, I'm saying that because I'm a bit scared of pressure cookers!
Anyway, I find that a slow cooker is a great way to cook these. Once made they need to be cooked on high for 12 hours each. The recipe makes three puddings which needed to be cooked one at a time, immediately after they are completed.
Change the foil and greaseproof paper once cooked.
I store our puddings in the fridge as they don't contain alcohol although they do have a high osmotic pressure from all the fruit.

To re-heat, cook on high in the slow cooker for 3hours.
Please, please never try to reheat in the microwave-it leads to an unpleasant chewy pudding.

The pudding can be served with various sauces but we use a spicy sauce with orange juice.
Christmas pudding is very, very filling and leads to somnolence.

This is a great recipe to make with little children especially the weighing of dried fruit and stirring. There is a story in "My naughty little sister" called the "Bonfire pudding" which goes well with making Christmas pudding around 5th November although if making the non-alcoholic version it is better not made until December and kept in the fridge.


This is linked to the Holiday recipe linkup with the four Moms.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Christian home educators in South East London

I've recently been able to make contact with two other Christian home educating families in the South East London area, thanks to a friend (thank you, Sarah) and a Christian home educators e-mail list. None of us previously knew each other nor do we attend the same churches.

We are hoping to meet together in the next few weeks for some activities for the children and lunch.

More in hope than expectation, I wondered whether anyone knows any other Christian home educators in this area who might like to meet. Please contact me, or preferably ask the person you know to contact me,either via the comments (I won't post anything with personal information) or via e-mail.
The families meeting have younger children, pre-school and early primary school, with the exception of one of mine who is late primary school age.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Stop trying to do it all

The Money saving Mom has posted a helpful article about time management. This, the first of a series, is about not trying do it all.
There are times when it seems that everyone else has life so much more together and gets so much more done. It can be a miserable and wrong thought. This article is a useful antidote.

Monday, 1 November 2010

A tree planted by the waters

We went for a walk in Westerham, the other day. A fine autumn day. This tree reminded me of the verses below.

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and the spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

Jeremiah 17v7 and 8.