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.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Traditional Oat Flapjacks

flapjacks twixt downs and sea

A really easy recipe to make cereal bars for lunch boxes or guests. Baked from scratch and you can choose your ingredients and add any healthy bits your family enjoy. I’ve chosen to use traditional syrup, brown sugar and butter but honey is a more natural alternative that works really well.

I like it plain but you can ice it or top with melted chocolate.


Ingredients for basic flapjack

2 tablespoons golden syrup or honey (tip: run the spoon under boiling water- it won’t stick)

100g brown sugar,

100g butter,

200g porridge oats,

Optional extra ingredient (dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips)



Twixt flapjack recipe

Why I’m fasting facebook…

set your mind on things above twixt downs and sea
I am deeply ashamed to admit I am a facebook games addict.
What’s not to like? I do stuff for friends (often ‘friends’ I don’t actually speak to). then they give me presents. I complete stuff, I get prizes. And I have a lovely well-designed and tidy farm filled with happy animals. The games seem designed perfectly to keep me entertained, which of course they are.
I gave up before, My husband, who often acts as my moral compass, told me I was spending more time in the virtual than the real world, more time feeding virtual people than real ones, more time tidying my virtual house than my real one, more time talking to virtual people than to my children. I was ashamed. And I deleted all my games.
Then the requests began again. I was weak. I thought I could control it, limit it, I can’t.
And I read that a recent study showed that one in three people feel bad after visiting facebook and dissatisfied with their lives. I don’t think I feel bad – I don’t tend to envy others but do I feel good?  Would I intentionally choose to look at and read what others post? Is it a good use of my time?
There’s always a good reason to stay on facebook. Hearing news from friends and family abroad, people who have moved on… It is, I suppose a good servant and a bad master. I have friends who left because they were reading stuff they didn’t want to know about – maybe after Easter I’ll feel that’s right for me too.
I know I need to find some time at Lent for prayer and study so in the spirit of better stewardship of my time, I choose to use that ‘facebook time’ more intentionally. And I’m hoping I won’t miss it. And I’m hoping 40 days is long enough to break my bad habits. And I’m hoping the new habits will stick.
    Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8
It’s probably obvious that I could really use some advice on what has worked well for you. I would be grateful for any suggestions.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Good parenting v responsible parenting


twixt downs and sea 2012 danger

When my eldest became a teenager, some friends and I went on a parenting course. We’d done ok with the preteen bit but were having problems knowing how far to shift the boundaries.

The first lesson we learnt was the difference between good and responsible parenting. Good and loving parents will do everything for their children. It’s not bad parenting to make their lunch, do their laundry, check they’ve done their homework and so forth. But, the more responsible way to parent, especially as they get older is to trust them to make their own way and give them ownership of what is theirs.

Things your teenager could have ownership of

  • carrying their own school bag and lunch box. How many parents do you see loaded down with two or more bags, boxes and coats while junior runs off laughing with his mates?
  • making their own lunch – or even making everyone’s lunch. Cooking one night a week?
  • getting themselves up in the morning. I used to do that thing where you have to go back 3 times to get them up, getting more and more irate, (even resorting to the wet flannel) but no more. One alarm clock each – job done.
  • putting themselves to bed. I discovered ‘flexible bedtime’ on that course, but that’s another post in itself.

And we have such a great model of parenting to follow. Something Christians are often asked is why doesn’t God do everything for us. Why isn’t our way made easy? He gives us ownership of our lives, a chance to choose the right way. And equips us with everything we need and the right tools. With love, a family and an example to follow.

I  recently followed a link from Tsh to read a brilliant post about this by Alameda Patch. God doesn’t lift us to the top of the slide. His word lights the way and he will catch us if we fall.


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