Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Monthly Munch: November 2016

Well, we've had sicknesses and successes, soups and stews, sunshine and sn...frost.  I've been doing lots more writing and trying to figure out how to get people to give me money for it. 

And we went mining.  Actually, this photo is us in an old lime kiln, on a suitably atmospheric camera setting.


Toby


- got some glasses!  Unusually for our family, he isn't short-sighted, but has some astigmatism.  Children's glasses have got much more trendy since I had them; he has Star Wars and Minions.

- won first prize in his class for the Children in Need bake off at school.

- has been trying to teach me "ninja" moves, which is quite fun.

- got the sick bug which has been going around, and has been off school for a few days.


- designed a (belated) jack o'lantern and a table centrepiece for Thanksgiving.

Our mini Thanksgiving dinner


Theo

Cafes with Kids out-takes

- decided to go to preschool happily after half term.

- has twice gone to sleep on the landing instead of in his bed.

Toby's just pretending


- loves drawing and decorating things.

playgroup penguin


- did not like fireworks at all - far too noisy!

Thankful for:


- free/cheap food!  I have had bags of free apples to stew, and got two pumpkins for 50p each, which provided pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.

mmm... pumpkin pie!


- a visit from Auntie Colette, who brought the boys matching Star Wars T-shirts.



Recipe of the Month: Minestrone soup


I've never made minestrone soup before, but it's a good chunky comforting type of soup.  I cut down the original recipe a bit but it still made lots; you could probably get 8 servings out of it.  I froze some in portions, as soup is a nice thing to pull out of the freezer for lunch when it's cold outside.

2 large leeks, sliced
300g carrots, peeled and diced
300g potatoes, peeled and diced
1.5 litres vegetable stock
125g green beans, halved
125g mini pasta shapes
2 cans chopped tomatoes
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper
oregano

Put the leeks, carrots and potatoes into a very large saucepan and add the stock.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are tender.  Add the green beans, pasta, tomatoes and tinned beans with the seasoning, and simmer for another 10-15 minutes until the pasta is done.  Serves 6-8.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Jesus came to earth... to reflect God to us




Do you remember playing with a magnifying glass on a sunny day?  That curved piece of glass you held in your hand captured the scattered rays, narrowing them down to a fluttering patch of brightness.  And all the light’s power was held in that one small circle, shrinking and shrinking… until finally you were rewarded with a sudden curl of smoke, and a neat charred hole.

Imagine, then, that God, seeking to reveal himself on earth, condensed his essential being through some kind of celestial magnifying glass.  That wavering point became smaller and smaller, losing none of its power… until it became the exact size of a human baby, growing in a womb.

Jesus is the image of the invisible God, says the verse in Colossians, the perfect reflection of God’s glory.  This is the first and greatest reason that Jesus came: to show us what God is really like.  Yet sometimes, reflected and refracted through 2000 years of history, the image that Jesus shows us seems as blurred as any other.  How do we see it clearly again?

Start by taking one step backwards.  Jesus’ reflection of God is not just about the Sermon on the Mount.  Not just about the people he healed.  Not just his final words on the cross.  If we’re not careful, we can lose ourselves in analysing the detail.  And like an Impressionist painting, the picture dissolves into dots of unrelated colour.  But when we step back and realise that Jesus was God, all of him, and his whole life was dedicated to doing the will of the Father, then we start to see some larger patterns.  His life, death, resurrection and glory all form one extravagant sweep that leads our eye towards God.

And now take three steps forward again.  This is not a picture you can view from a safe distance.  This is a person who demands that you get involved.  The New Testament is full of references to sharing with Christ; we share his sufferings, his death, his resurrection and his reign.  As he shared his humanity with us, so we, gradually, can come to share his God-likeness with him.  The communion table, where we share his body and blood for ourselves and with others, is a beautiful reminder.  The love of God was shown through Jesus, John tells us, and it is only through sharing with love that he can be fully known.

And this Advent, find a magnifying glass and give yourself some time to remember the unwavering light of God, shining from a point just the size of a newborn baby, lying in a manger.  All the light’s power, held in that one small life… and more than enough to kindle a flame.

Photo attribution: By shakko (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Planning

Well, the Christmas cake is made, a nativity play has been written, and that all means it must be getting close to.... Advent!  In fact, closer than you might think; because Christmas Day is a Sunday this year, that means the first Sunday of Advent is the earliest it can be, on the 27th of November.  The church has to fit its four Sundays in, you see, even though the calendars limit themselves to 24 days.  Don't tell the kids, or they'll be wanting an extra five days of chocolates.

The main reason that all interests me this year is because I've decided to write a series of four Advent reflections, one for each Sunday.  So watch out for the first one on here in 10 days!  The theme is Jesus' incarnation, which turned into a set of rather neat prepositions:

Jesus came to earth -
  • to reflect God to us
  • to suffer with us
  • to die for us
  • to be glorified over us
If you or anyone you know would like a pdf copy, to print, email or otherwise distribute, please do get in touch.  I'd love for this to reach a wider audience.  These will be available a week in advance of being posted on the blog.

Also, if anyone remembers the daily Advent reflections from 2013 and would like their very own copy to re-read, this is also now available in pdf format.  Drop me a line at marthawhite656[at]gmail[dot]com and I'll email it to you.

So, sorry it's been quiet around here.  Things have been going on, just behind the scenes!  I'll try and post a few more pretty pictures before we hit the Christmas rush.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Monthly Munch: October 2016

It's been feeling more and more autumnal, with chilly mornings and drifts of yellow leaves underfoot.  We celebrated Toby's birthday (and several of his friends' birthdays - it's been party season!).  The whole of his school somehow squeezed into our small village church for harvest festival, and we've been collecting conkers, sweet chestnuts, apples and quinces.  Theo is still chatting away and trying to help with everything, sometimes more successfully than others!  And we welcomed all the grandparents for what seems to be becoming the traditional joint October half term visit.


Toby


- celebrated his 6th birthday with a long-awaited party at Jangala soft play.  He's been asking for his party to be there since June at least!



- really enjoyed the Winnie-the-Pooh books for bedtime stories, and we've now moved on to a Paddington omnibus.  After that I'm thinking Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, perhaps.

- collected lots of conkers!



- kept asking to go rock climbing, so we went to High Tor near Matlock Bath.  The interesting bits were all fenced off, but it was still a nice walk.

The big drop was NOT fenced off!


Theo

 

- walked almost all the way around the High Tor loop we did.  We didn't even take the pushchair, and we were so proud of how well he did.

- is obsessed with a game called Shopping List, and will happily play it six times a day.

- likes the playdough at preschool.

- has picked up the phrase, "Dat's dust howwible!"

Dressing up at Sudbury Hall
 
- loves helping to cook.  He's getting pretty good at peeling carrots.

Inspecting pepper plants

Thankful for:

- some beautiful autumn walks.


- extra family members around to play Shopping List!

- in keeping with the harvest theme: good food and plenty of it.

Recipe of the Month: all those cakes

I've already posted recipes for cakes and more cakes this month, and I don't seem to have taken photos of anything else, so that will have to do. 

The quinces I mentioned earlier were a freebie from Graham's work; I tried poaching some but put too many cloves in, so they tasted very clove-y and were a bit overcooked.  They are hard work to cut up too!  But it was interesting to try a traditional but unusual fruit.

Chopping quinces