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Showing posts from November, 2014

The Light of Hope

All of a sudden, the sun breaks through the clouds. In an instant, the world around you is transformed.  The sleepy browns and beiges awake to shimmering gold and bronze.  The green grass glows as if lit from within, while the red bricks of the houses brighten from chestnut to crimson.  You lift your head as the grey sky above you becomes the backdrop to this technicolour display, its contrasting darkness making the colours shine brighter.  You gaze, letting the light fill your eyes. The people who walked in darkness   have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. Why should Christmas bring hope?  It comes around, year after year; we have seen the lights, heard the carols.  Twenty, thirty, fifty times.  Surely if anything was going to change, it would have changed by now.  Yet still death haunts us, despair assails us, disasters appall us.  Where now is the light, as the darkness presses in?  Yet still those first notes of the c

Monthly Munch: November

Fireworks: We went to a local fireworks display with a spectacular bonfire, enjoyed burgers and a somewhat more manageable bonfire with our church small group, and Graham and I escaped for a date night and watched fireworks from Breedon Hill. Bonfire at Hartshorne fireworks display Frost: and rain.  The weather has definitely turned Novemberish.  We've been scraping car windscreens, donning hats and mittens, and occasionally getting severely soaked. Fatigue: It's " that time of year" as everyone keeps saying, meaning that all the kids are ill.  We had an emergency trip with Theo to the hospital when he woke up coughing and struggling to breathe (he recovered very quickly), and some very unsettled nights. Toby - is a fan of spaceships and planets.  He got me to make some toilet roll rockets to fly from planet to planet on his space playmat.  - helped make hedgehog bread rolls from a recipe in the Peppa Pig magazine.  He enjoyed the kneading and they

Competitive cupcakes

On a happier note... Blue minty swirl; ponds and lakes ...I won a cupcake competition! Apple and blackberry; trees and plants The theme was 20 Years of Rosliston Forestry Centre , in half a dozen cupcakes. Vanilla supreme; Happy birthday! I had fun creating six different flavours, based on a Madeira sponge recipe... Caramel chocolate bar; outdoor activities ...and moulding sugarpaste decorations for the top of each one. Hazelnut and honey; wildlife  Once I managed to turn up on the correct day (I don't know why I had Saturday fixed in my head instead of Sunday)... Choc chip and cherry; children's fun  ...I got them safely delivered to the competition. All together now... And the judges were impressed! Article in the Burton Mail  We now have 6 months of free eggs!


Family is a funny thing. As I grew up, we made regular but infrequent visits to my aunts, uncles and cousins.  My dad's side of the family - the English half - we would usually see once a year, at Christmas.  Every three years, usually in the summer, we would go spend a few weeks with my mom's family in the USA.  When you have memories of little Lizzie slipping her hand into yours as you walked down the street, or of baking Lucky Charms cookies with Eva, you feel like you should know these people. With my American cousins, 1994 Then you start counting, and realise you barely need ten fingers to add up the number of times you have seen them.  Not just in the last ten years.  In your whole life. And now, some of them are gone.  There never will be a chance to get to know them better.  And although you can hardly grieve a person you knew so little, they were family .  Those nebulous threads stringing us all together have just tweaked and tightened a little; and like a sp

Working on sunshine

Freeeee electricity!  No, seriously.  This guy came and knocked on the door one day, and I don't usually pay any more attention to random strangers trying to sell me something at the door than you probably do, but I guess he must have said "free" enough times to penetrate my consciousness, so I found myself agreeing to have someone check our house's suitability for solar panels.  And another guy turned up, and measured; and another one, and we signed; and a few more, and put up scaffolding and panels and meter boxes and cable; and suddenly, if we're careful, we can avoid paying for any electricity during daylight hours, because it's all generated right up there above our heads. Of course, we have the British government to thank for this, which probably means we're paying for it somewhere along the line.  The Department for Energy and Climate Change (presumably it's actually against climate change rather than for it, although you never know) has

Monthly Munch: October

The big event was Toby's birthday, which somehow took over most of the month!  Graham's parents visited the weekend before it, when we had his party; then he opened presents on the actual day; then my parents visited the week after, which involved more cake and gifts.  We saw fire eating and live music at the local marina; survived all of us having colds at once; started attending a baby group in the village with Theo; painted a fence and made a Christmas cake. Toby - turned four years old!  (I feel like I've been saying he's "nearly four" for months now.) He said the strawberry plants needed sheltering from the rain - finally plucked up courage to try the big swings, and discovered he's really quite good at them. -suddenly decided he would have a shower instead of a bath, which he has never done before. - enjoys going kayaking with Graham... The intrepid mariners set sail ...and playing on the playground in his lifejacket afterwards.

Two birthday cakes

Yes, Toby got two birthday cakes this year.  I was flicking through my children's birthday cake book to see if it had a pirate ship or something, and he got all excited about the frog cake.  So, because I am a pushover an enthusiastic baker, I agreed to bake a frog the week after his birthday, when my parents came to visit.  Because it's pretty hard to work a frog prince into a pirate theme. But look, he's so cute! First, the treasure chest. The cake book came up zero on pirate cakes, but fortunately the amazing Ellie gave her daughter a pirate party a few years ago - and blogged about the cake she made.  The recipe sounded tasty so I thought I'd give it a try in place of my standard chocolate cake.  I doubled it, which gave us a lot of cake, but all the party guests were quite happy to take some home. Chocolate Date Cake 450g dates, chopped 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) 250g butter 250g caster sugar 6 large eggs 370g self-raising flour 80