Sunday, 31 March 2013

Your cross…


Your cross Spurgeon quote twixt downs and sea

Just loved this quote when I read it on Good Morning Girls.

It doesn’t need any words from me. I just found it a great reminder as I know I’ve been guilty of  all the ‘do nots’ . Praying for that cheerful acceptance.

If you want to read more check out Jen’s great words, here.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

tempered by ice?


tempered by ice twixt downs and sea

Late snowfall

Daffodils buried in white drifts

Flower heads broken.

But the bulbs will survive

Frost makes them stronger

Tempered by ice

next year they will be more fruitful

reminding me

this seasons trials


have wrought in me new strength.


Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1v2-3

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

…she gets up while it is still night…


sunrise twixt downs and sea

I’m joining in Crystal’s challenge to rise early in March. I can’t really call this much of a challenge for our household since we have embraced the early to rise ethos for the last couple of years. In fact, when I picked up on the whole Proverbs 31 thing, I thought at least I am the woman who “gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family”.

For me, that was the original impetus behind the early rise – to make sure my son had a good breakfast and to prepare everyone’s packed lunches. And just to be that bit more intentional with my time.

And I still think that’s so important. Breakfast is that little quiet breather where we discuss our plans and hopes for the day and give each other a bit of mutual support. Time to listen, time to share.

Of course sometimes we do get into the whole ”by the way I need money for a trip/a costume/my trainers/a form filled in “ thing. But because we’re up nice and early, there’s time to find stuff without (me) getting in a panic. So it’s all good.

Crystal has a great list here today of things you can do with your time gained from getting up early. Breakfast done, I like to look at my and pray over my own plans for the day, that’s if I’m not in the cupboard under the stairs looking for a lost trainer!

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Basic Home-made Scones – frugal family favourites


Basic British Scones recipe twixt downs and sea

Scones – the best recipe ever for when you have hoards of hungry youngsters and not a lot of cash. Easily and quickly made from cheap stuff you have in the store cupboard and don’t even need measuring when you’ve made them a few times. I think an American scone is a more fancy beast but our basic British jobs are just 8oz of flour, about 2 of butter and some milk…

They’re best eaten warm and on the day you make them. I often make a batch after school – takes less than half an hour – and they normally get eaten pretty quick.

Here’s the basic instructions

  1. preheat oven to 200°C (390°F)
  2. Sift flour into a bowl (for 8 small scones 8oz (or 8 tablespoons or just under 2 cups of self raising flour - or plain flour plus 3 tsp baking powder)
  3. Add butter (2oz, half stick or quarter cup) and first cut in then rub with cold fingertips.
  4. pinch of salt and if you want some sugar
  5. mix to a dough with cold milk (secret tip - my mother always left the milk out overnight to sour)
  6. roll out to 1” thick (to about the first knuckle on your thumb) and cut out about 8  2” diameter scones or make a round and mark into 8 wedges.
  7. bake for 15 minutes for individual ones about 25 minutes for a big one.

Make it suit your family -

  • my friend with fussy little eaters adds an egg to get a bit of protein into them.
  • sultanas, raisins, dates are all good
  • coconut and cherry too (less frugal unless you have them in the cupboard)
  • add strong grated cheese and mustard powder for savoury lovers
  • wholemeal flour is good or half and half
  • I like a floury top (see picture) but you can milk or egg wash to make them shiny.
  • put savoury scones on top of mince or a stew to make Beef Cobbler (cheaper and lower fat than short crust pastry)


Cream tea easy and frugal from twixt downs and sea


If you happen to have a bit of cream and a few strawberries left over, treat yourselves to a lovely Cream tea. Special, easy and it’s still pretty inexpensive…




They’re best eaten warm and on the day you make them (no preservatives) . I often make a batch after school – takes less than half an hour – and they normally get eaten pretty quick.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Why I don’t want to write about sisterhood


Warning – somewhat pitiful post …

 2013 twixt downs and sea  berries


Suddenly my dashboard was full of encouraging, lovely stories of friendship and sisterhood. And I’m thinking to myself – this is obviously something all other Christian ladies do. And it sounds amazing.

Then I found an invitation to write about it. Well, I don’t want to.

If I went back ten years, I could write about the lovely Christian friends I had when my boys were little. We went to each other’s houses, shared meals, prayed together. And now, writing about this is bringing back memories of all those good times. The lovely woman who befriended me when I recommitted my life to Christ, the one who started a coffee group for new stay at home mums, the one who invited us to Sunday lunch, minded my baby while I worked at the church playgroup.

Then I moved towns. I started work. I joined a church where people just turned up Sunday. And somewhere along the line I decided I didn’t ‘do’ friends anymore. So I didn’t. And actually, I kind of took pride in it. Told myself I was avoiding being let down. Because I had been… let down. Also put upon, taken advantage of, used.  To borrow Alecia's words 'I had relegated myself to a party of one'.

I still did my service, my volunteering,  helped. Just avoided the friend bit.

But just recently I’ve started to think that I might be wrong.

So, I’m reading all those stories of sisterhood and companionship and remembering how good it felt when I was asked out to coffee, round to someone’s house to talk, what a blessing those women gave me. It’s not so easy without the babies, and I’m still afraid of the hurt, but this is the year when I want to be intentional about how I use my time, so I’m going to try for a bit of sisterhood.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

10 reasons why parents should cook from scratch


why parents should cook from scratch twixt downs and sea

  1. It’s more healthy. Modern ready made dishes, sauces and cakes all have more sugar and salt than the home made versions I grew up with. And the cheaper products have other nasties like saturated fats, aspartame and additives.
  2. Following on from that, the second reason is that you know what’s in it. Maybe you prefer butter to margarine because it’s natural, maybe you don’t use sodium or salt because someone has high blood pressure, or someone has allergies. It’s better for fussy eaters too,  you can leave out the garlic and maybe substitute carrots for mushrooms.
  3. And you can add some healthy extras. My boys wouldn’t choose a fruit cake but adding some berries or raisins to a chocolate muffin goes down okay, they don’t notice that a few seeds have got in there as well.
  4. It’s fresh. So no preservatives needed.
  5. It’s cheaper. We are having a big focus on frugality in our house. It is a  fact that some discount ranges may appear cheaper but I would suggest that if you look at the ingredients and portion sizes generally home made is better value. (Especially if the fruit/veg component is home grown too).
  6. You can use what you have in the house. Someone gives you apples, make apple cake. Too long until payday, use your store cupboard basics and be creative.
  7. It’s enjoyable. Baking in particular is relaxing, but so too is chopping up a mountain of vegetables for a stir fry, kneading dough, beating egg whites. My weekend wind down begins with a dozen ‘fairy’ cakes for my boys.
  8. It’s service. Serving your children, husband and family. Serving your workmates with a tray bake for a meeting.
  9. Modelling for your children. Mine was one of the generations of women who decided that house work was demeaning to women. Many young women and men now parenting have never seen how to prepare fresh vegetables, raw meat or to make a scone. The things that are second nature to me to make are those I saw my mother and grandmothers making. Our heritage.
  10. It’s a chance to do something practical with your children that has a great end result. Maybe a less academic one can shine, a studious child take a break from studying, a lively one put their energy into being productive. It’s a life skill and a chance to talk about healthy eating. And it’s a great one for grandparents too. In fact, if you’re not confident, you could learn with the littlies.

There are loads of great recipes on the internet or in cook books. I’ve shared a few of mine already and my plan for 2013 is to do a series of the real basic stuff, basic pastry, cake and biscuit recipes to start with.

Does anyone have any other good reasons for cooking from scratch? Did I miss something really obvious?

Linking up with the lovely ladies at Domestically Divine Tuesday,  Titus 2sday, WFMW, Proverbs 32 Thursday and Frugal Friday.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Casting the first stone from my high horse

or ways to avoid rushing into judgement…
why I'm putting Trigger out to pasture  twixt downs and sea
I have a sad tendency towards judgement. Being judgemental.
And even worse, although I know it’s wrong, sometimes it feels so right.
I tell myself it’s righteous anger against injustice or whatever, but it’s not.
It’s things that annoy me but I have no intention of doing anything about. I’m quick to anger, not about big things but things like shorts in church, hats indoors, bad manners, people who let their toddlers take up seats on the bus when older folk are standing.
So prone am I to jump on my high horse and condemn other people that said high horse has a name and my husband is prone to make clopping noises and call for Trigger. Which does make me feel a bit ridiculous…
Faced with the adulterous woman of John 8 I know my first impulse would involve tutting and condemnation. And I suppose the Pharisees expected the same of Jesus. But what he did was such a great example…
Ways to avoid rushing into judgement:
Firstly Jesus took time. ‘But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.‘ I am awfully prone to rush into judgement on things that don’t concern me. To leap onto that high horse. It would be good to stop and think.
Then,  reflect on your own sins, not those of others. Next, of course Jesus says “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  And it just makes it so simple, so obvious really.
And ask for wisdom, for discernment. The Bible says that At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, This gives me a bit of hope that more wisdom may come with age!
Choose to show love. In the words of St Paul and in the translation I learnt as a child, love ‘is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.’ Ouch, that rejoiceth not in iniquity stings a bit.
And exercise grace. When Jesus speaks to the woman he makes it clear he doesn’t condemn her. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t condemn the mum on the bus either. Or the teenager at church in her shorts. I’m trying to trade Trigger for Grace. To deal with the plank  in my own eye. Time to put Trigger out to pasture.
linking with Jen and Michelle.


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