Friday 31 December 2010

For the New Year

"LORD, thou has been our dwelling place in all generations.

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

Thou turnest men to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.

For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
Thous carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep; in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.
In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.

For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.
Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.

For all our days are passed away in thy wrath; we spend our years as a tale that is told.
The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off ,and we fly away.

Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.

O satisfy us early with thy mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.
Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.
And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

Psalm 90-a prayer of Moses the man of God.

"Let thy work appear into thy servants and thy glory unto their children"-may the Lord grant this to us in the coming year.

Wednesday 29 December 2010

End of the old year

Today was grey-fog lingering after thick fog yesterday. The sort of day when grey threatens to become a mood not just a colour.
Today, we found bulbs the children planted weeks ago with little shoots.

On grey days, I like to do something creative so started some marmalade-the first of the season. It is too early for Sevilles so used some blood grapefruit. The fruit is sitting in my slow cooker waiting for its long cooking-ready to be made into the finished product tomorrow.

Today, was the anniversary of my Grandfather's birth, 103 years ago. Today, a guest with us became an aunt and strangely, the little one has been given the same name as my Grandfather.

Friday 24 December 2010

Just so I don't loose the plot

It is twenty to eleven on Christmas Eve. I ought to be ironing, washing the kitchen floor, sorting out medication and the time that the turkey has to go on tomorrow. There are some tired children asleep including the almost two year old who was so tired and excited that he took hours to go to sleep and eventually slept in my arms: a lovely cuddly bundle.
Yes, I do like Christmas-really.

A thought provoking article today that reminded me of the grace of the dear Lord Jesus and of the lines by Isaac Watts

How sweet and awful is the place
With Christ within the doors
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores

While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast
Each of us cry with thankful tongues
“Lord, why was I a guest?”

“Why was I made to hear Thy voice
And enter while there’s room
When thousands make a wretched choice
And rather starve than come?”

’Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in
Else we had still refused to taste
And perished in our sin

Pity the nations, O our God
Constrain the earth to come
Send Thy victorious Word abroad
And bring the strangers home

We long to see Thy churches full
That all the chosen race
May with one voice and heart and soul
Sing Thy redeeming grace.

I had a package today. Not a Christmas present-unless a present to my self is counted. My copy of "An all-sufficient God" arrived. I've taken the plunge and joined a book club run by Ossett Christian bookshop. It should be great to have the accountability of this to push me along with the reading especially as the other ladies that I know who belong to this are definitely on the upper quartile of busyness so no excuses for me!

The book is D Martyn Lloyd-Jones' sermons on Isaiah 40. I haven't read much Lloyd-Jones although my Mum used to get up early, every Sunday morning, to read one of his sermons-a good example to follow.

Back to the chores!
Happy Christmas to you all.

Friday 17 December 2010

Blessings of being a three generation family

We've had three generations of us living in the same house for three and a half years now. The adjustment, to what was once the norm, hasn't always been easy but we can see clear benefits for all of us.

Our children are used to having an older person around and don't think older people are different or strange. The four year old particularly is very close to Grandma, they spend hours together. Grandma has taught her to identify many garden birds.

Grandma can see the children grow and change. She doesn't miss the first smiles and steps.

In the middle, we don't have desperate evenings when we have to travel 90 miles to see someone in hospital and get back that night. We don't worry about who will do Grandma's shopping in the snow. We know that three meals a day are offered and eaten.

I've had a willing helper with washing up after the main meal. This was something that I had never anticipated but makes a vast difference.

I've had to learn to live with someone very different to myself and learn more about my reactions, not always pleasant.

We can attend church together. It was difficult for us to help Grandma go to services regularly in her old home.

For Grandma, we have been able to ensure that medication reviews have happened,  leading to an improved health. It is easier to accompany to hospital appointments, although I know that I have sometimes been less than gracious about attending numerous visits.

Yes, it hasn't always been sweetness and light and we have all had to adjust but the benefits, for all of us, have outweighed the difficult times.
I may post, on another occasion, about practical issues and about effects of three generational living for different members of the family.

Thursday 16 December 2010

Slow cooker stock

Apologies to anyone who thinks that I'm teaching my grandmother to suck eggs. I had to be taught about this by my friend Carol and being domestically challenged found this very useful.

This is great for using up the last remains of the chicken or turkey, is very quick and provides the base for another meal.

Take any meat off the carcass, throw it into the slow ccoker with one chopped onion and any left over vegetables (not potatoes or brassica group veg), add mixed herbs, heat any remaining gravy to boiling point and add this plus enough boiling water to cover the carcass. Cook on high for twelve hours or overnight. Skim out the bones and vegetables and store in the fridge or freezer.

This stock is especially good in lentil soup. Served with cheese and wholemeal bread this provides a filling meal.

Monday 13 December 2010

Recipe books

This is the promised next installment of the book lists. In fact, I've been meaning to post for days but life has been busy, I drafted two posts and didn't like them so at last, here is something!

The best cookery books have lost their covers and have splashes on them. Books that stay pristine on the shelf aren't much use. My best cookery book is in such a state that I'm too ashamed to take a photo.
Anyway, in my opinion, my favourite recipe book is my old hand written recipe notebook that I was given as a teenager. It has lost its cover and is bulging with print outs of recipes from the internet and yes, it is splashed, used and loved. It contains favourites like my Mum's fruit cake, Grandma's Christmas cake, Auntie Jo's salmon roll, Erinn's microwave cake and Mrs Ward's chocolate cake. So many names, so many memories and real recipes that really work.

Two out of three of my older children have their own hard backed recipe books-note to self, the other child needs one too!

The first two years that I was at university, were spent with a lovely couple who fed me really well. Baked Alaska, roasts and savory pancakes were part of the fare. The following years, I had to cook for myself in private digs and then in hall. I was reasonably good at making cakes but soon found that main courses were another matter especially when I wanted them to be quick, cheap and nutritious. Only sardines on toast fell into this group. After a few weeks, it was a long, long time before I wanted sardines again.

My cousin Naomi, not for the last time, came to my rescue and taught me to make lasagne. This was a happy choice as then I could cook mince, pasta and cheese sauces which lead to a few variations. The book that came in useful at the same time was "The Student cookbook" by Jenny Baker. I hardly use it now but it taught how to substitute ingredients and how to make basics without scales and without frills. It only comes out now for the banana loaf-made with yogurt not egg but after reading this a few times, I wasn't going to starve or live on sardines.

Whizz on four years and some time friends gave us a Tower slow cooker as a wedding present. It is still going strong. This came with a great recipe book which has again lost its cover. It has recipes and explains how to use a slow cooker to make marmalade and cook Christmas pudding. It does seem to be available second hand.

Enough for now-there are more. Interesting, the books by celebrity chefs have been used but aren't worn out in the same way. I've made one or two recipes from each book. I would be fascinated to know which of your recipe books you use and love.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Christmas pudding spice sauce

We serve our Christmas pudding with a spicy non-alcoholic sauce-a good substitute for brandy butter. Here is the recipe

3oz margarine (needs to be good quality table margarine) or softened butter
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg or cinnamon depending on which taste you prefer
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
grated rind and juice of 1/2 orange
10 oz icing sugar

Beat the margarine/butter with the spices and orange rind then add the juice and icing sugar and beat together.
Store in the fridge.
This also tastes good with mince pies!

On a seasonal theme, we went to a home education group session at the National Gallery yesterday. We saw the Norwegian tree in Trafalgar Square.

 It was given by the City of Oslo to thank the country for help given in the Second World War-sorry about the quality of the photo-photos aren't my strong point especially combined with a pushchair, being behind the rest of the group and the cold!

Thursday 2 December 2010

Books-of course

I've just put up the beginning of the book lists. I'm sure there are many more to be added and I was running out of steam after age five! Hope to expand this in the near future.

Thinking ahead, past all the things to be done in the next month which I haven't started, I wanted to put together a list of books to read next year. This would be for me rather than read alouds for the children. Like many mothers, I don't get much time to read but having a list would be a push to read more. I'm not thinking about a crazy number but perhaps 15 over the year and a variety of types of books.
My current wishlist seems to involve only books from the US. If anyone has read them please let me know your opinions as I'm debating whether they are worth importing. One, at least, is very heavy!
Anyway, the list is
Large family logistics which I'm told is very heavy! I'm waiting for a quote on postage hopefully before the end of the Vision Forum 50% sale!
Lessons at Blackberry Inn. This is a novel with teaching about a lady home educating in the 1920s using Charlotte Mason's ideas. I've read "Pocket full of pinecones" which is the first book in the series and found it inspirational. Karen Andreola has also written "A Charlotte Mason companion" which is my current reading. We certainly wouldn't espouse all of Charlotte Mason's ideas and are especially dubious about her ideas about the will. However, some of the practical ideas around nature journals, narration and music are interesting and we may use.
Nourishing traditions sounds interesting and controversial in its ideas on nutrition. I can't decide whether it is wild and wacky or whether there is something in this. I think I shall have to read and decide!

Ossett Christian bookshop has a Ladies reading club which is another aim for next year.

Has anyone any suggestions for good reading? How do you find time to read?