Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More cupcakes and great recipe sites

The felt cupcakes I talked about in my previous post inspired inspired me to make some real ones! I googled the words 'easy cupcakes' and the first recipe that came up was from one of my favourite recipe sites.

I have been looking through all my cookbooks for an easy cupcake recipe and most of them required 5-6 eggs and beating butter and sugar together, which sounded like too much work for me! But this recipe required only 2 eggs, and no beating, the hardest thing was melting the butter in the microwave! And they turned out great, and very yummy! Check out all the comments about the cupcakes from those who have made them, there are some good tips about variations to the recipe. I am also looking forward to trying the Double chocolate cupcakes.

In the holidays I am planning a teddy Bear's picnic for my eldest daughter and her friends. I will make a batch of cupcakes (probably the small muffin size) which they can ice and decorate themselves, and then they can make some pretend cupcakes for their teddies!

My mum used to arrange craft days for my friends in the holidays, these were very memorable to me and I am sure to some of my school friends whose mums weren't very crafty!

I look forward to getting to know my daughter's friends more, and I love watching little girls create things, they come up with such beautiful things!

One other recipe I love from the site is a Broccoli and pasta bake. This recipe is also super easy and great for a crowd of people.

I came across another recipe site called cooking by numbers. I haven't as yet used any of the recipes, but the concept is good, you click on what ingredients you have in your cupboard and it comes up with a list of recipes that use the stuff you have. It would be great resource for giving ideas for new recipes and inspiration for when you just don't know what to cook for tea!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Felt food frenzy

I have been addicted to making felt food this past weekend!

I have been in a sewing/crafty mood lately. I have seen several blogs with felt food featured, but I haven't really been inspired to try making anything until I stumbled across some pictures of cupcakes. I suddenly had to give it a try!

So here are some photos of what I came up with.

Here are the cupcakes.

I made a cake with removable decorations and candles and tea bags.

Some donuts and strawberries.

Here it all is, ready for a tea party! I want to try making a pizza next with removable toppings.

If you would like to try making cupcakes, here is a blog which had a step by step tutorial on how to do it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Spring has sprung!

Spring has always been my favourite season, here's why.

  • I love the way it's starting to get lighter in the mornings, I can enjoy a sunrise in quietness before my kids get out of bed!
  • The sun is so clear and warm, perfect for falling asleep under;
  • I love watching all the leaves come back on the trees, roses budding, and flowers blooming;
  • Its great to dig out shorts, skirts, t-shirts and sandals, to have a change from the Winter wardrobe!;
  • Being able to take the cover off the sandpit and watching my kids spend hours digging in the sand;
  • Getting stuck into the gardening, I don't mind weeding if it's an excuse to be outside in the sunshine;
  • Just being outside with my kids watching them playing with caterpillars, worms, and butterflies, riding their bikes, scooters, running around;
  • Going for walks and looking at all the gardens starting to bloom;
  • Celebrating our wedding anniversary cause I always wanted to get married in Spring (the best time of year for flowers!);
  • Revisiting places like the park and beach which have been a no go zone for a while during the cold and wet Winter;
  • Exploring my dad's and father in law's gardens, they are some much more interesting than my young 2 and 1/2 year old garden!
  • Spring cleaning and sorting!

I didn't realised how much I liked about Spring until I started writing stuff down!

I am so thankful that there are different seasons, it is so wonderful to have a change.

My husband bought two small grapevines last year and for the past 2 months we thought they were dead, I was ready to chuck them out. But the other day I saw some small green leaves start to appear.

Of course they had been dormant for the Winter, but I didn't realise how 'dead looking' they would get! But that was just for a season, now its time for growth.

I read that it's through the Winter when vines should be pruned, when they are dormant. It reminded me how sometimes in our lives when we are struggling it may appear that we are 'dead' or not going anywhere but that's probably when we are being pruned.

God is doing a deeper work within us even though on the outside it may appear that we are dormant or 'dead looking'. I shared this with a friend the other day who is struggling with their feelings about God. We may feel far away from God during this time, but He is doing a deeper work in us and its only for season that we may feel like this.

The grapevine needs to be dormant for a while so it can be pruned, so it can bear fruit in the proper season. During the Winter many of us experience times of sickness, isolation, weariness, because there is less sun, it is cold, we are more prone to illness - but God allows this season for deeper growth, to prepare us for the time when we will bear fruit.

So I am thankful for the change in seasons, and I look forward to seeing the fruit on the trees and the roses on the bushes!!

"To everything there is a season,

A time for every purpose under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Reality check

Yesterday was a reality check day for me.

I was fighting with lies and thoughts in my mind which made me feel unloved. I should have seen it coming as we have just finished the book, "Lies Young Women believe". I felt attacked and struck down, but God in His great mercy allowed that time for me to take a reality check and examine my heart.

I am thankful for such a wonderful husband who, God sent to minister to me and serve me. But it wasn't until this morning after spending time with the Lord, that I realised how much I needed yesterday.

I needed to experience the victory, needed to examine my heart and confess, needed my husband to minister to me and to allow him to, needed this morning with God.

When I was feeling low, I even battled with the thought that God can't really make me happy, is He really out there, is He enough? I couldn't believe I was having those thoughts, I know the truth so well, but I pushed them out of my mind, and God sent along my husband to help me through!

Its so easy to get caught up in doing things, and if everything is all going well, there's a part of me that thinks I am doing OK and don't need God as much, but I am so thankful that He reminds me how much I need to surrender everything to Him, that when I am doing it in my strength I am doing it my way, not His!

This morning I reflected on this truth from the book I mentioned earlier.

When you want things to go YOUR way
Its not about me; it's all about Him (Colossians 1:116-18; Revelation 4:11)!
The world was not created to revolve around us. The entire universe was created to revolve around Christ. If our goal in life is to be happy or accepted or loved, than anything that threatens our well-being will be an enemy - an obstacle to fulfilling our objective. On the other hand, once we agree with God that we exist for His pleasure and glory, we can accept whatever comes into our lives as part of His sovereign will and purpose. We will not resent, resist, or reject the "hard things", but embrace them as "friends," designed by God to make us like Jesus and to bring glory to Himself.

I am thankful for this "friend" that God allowed to come into my life yesterday, it was a reminder about how much I need Him, and its all about Him.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I need to abide

"I am the vine you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruits; for without Me you can do nothing."

Sometimes I get so busy, and think I am doing well...cause I am doing lots of stuff, but I am not abiding, I don't take the time to really connect with the vine, to linger at the Saviours feet.

In Bible Study today we learned about abiding, and how we are not going to bear 'much fruit' by doing more, by working longer and harder. The 'much fruit' is only produced when we are 'abiding' in Him. I need to spend less time working for Christ and more time with Christ.

That challenging passage about Mary and Martha was brought up, "And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving........'Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.'" Luke 10:39-42

Mary wasn't being lazy, she just knew the one thing that was needed, to spend time with Jesus, that was more important than doing things for Him, she wanted to be with Him, and the amazing part is that He wanted to be with her too!

My time with Jesus is a huge priority for me every day, each morning I delight in spending time with Him before everyone else is awake, but its through my day that I need to put that time aside for Him as well.

There are many times I hear Him prompting me.. 'just sit down and talk to Me, don't worry about folding the washing, the dishes, I will provide you with the opportunity to do them later, right now while the children are happily playing outside, sit down with Me, read My word and listen to what I have to say to you. I want to give you an abundant life, full of joy in Me...'

It is so hard to stop sometimes, but every time I do it, my soul is deeply satisfied, my strength is renewed, my heart is refreshed, I am no longer 'worried and troubled about many things'.

"Do you face seemingly insurmountable obstacles to abiding? Remember Mary's choice, the circumstances in which it happened, and the favour it brought her. Remember Susannah Wesley. A busy mother of more than a dozen boisterous kids (John and Charles among them), Susannah found a way to abide. Whenever she put a bag over her head every Wesley child knew not to interrupt - Mother was spending time with God. And the fruit from Susannah Wesley's life (she's one of the most important figures in revival history) is still being counted.

Maybe today you should go looking for an old grocery bag!"
(Taken from Secrets of the Vine devotional)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I wish the tooth fairy was real

My oldest daughter lost her first tooth on Saturday! It was a rather dramatic experience, there was no lead up to it, it wasn't wobbling, it just came out - with lots of blood!

We were in the car on our way back from Ikea and she just started crying and she had her tooth in a tissue and blood coming out. The blood was what made her cry, she hates it! It was very exciting to see her lose her first tooth, but I haven't seen her cry so much for a long time!

Her brother was not so tolerant of the crying he said, 'Mummy, I just can't deal with all this crying!'

After a while the bleeding stopped, and was rather proud of her lost tooth. She looks very cute with one tooth missing.

Most of her friends at school have already lost one or more teeth, so she has heard lots about the tooth fairy. She asked her father a few weeks ago if the tooth fairy was real, and he, 'but I can come and put some money under your pillow.' She has yet to believe him, that the tooth fairy is not real, and she did not want him to put money under her pillow.

She has been waiting since Saturday night for the real tooth fairy to come, today she has written a note to the tooth fairy to tell her about her tooth - I wish she was real, I hate it when my kids get disappointed. But her friends at school tell her that they have seen the tooth fairy and that she has come to their house, so she is determined to wait for her, although I can sense an element of disappointment that she has not come yet, I think she must feel forgotten.

It will be an interesting lesson for her to learn, she will keep waiting and she will not come. I am so glad though that I can pass on to her the truths about Jesus and that He is real. And to teach her about the wonder of prayer, and waiting, and that though there are not fairies, there are angels all around looking after her, fighting hard to keep away the evil that is lurking about. And that one day Jesus will come back, that when we look up into the clouds, that is a reminder that one day He will return in the clouds. I am so glad I can pass on these truths to her, I look forward to the days when she sees God at work in her life and in the life of her family, when it hits her that He really is real and that He is all powerful!

Still the idea of a tooth fairy is so nice, I wish she was real...!

Monday, September 8, 2008

The myth of quality time

I came across an article I had cut out from Adelaide's Child several years ago, it is titled, 'The myth of quality time'. I was so glad to read it over again, it was a good reminder about how I should be spending time with my children. Here are a few snippets from it.

'....Time has become one of the most precious of our commodities, and as with everything that is precious, we guard it fiercely - even when it comes to relationships with the people closest to us.

When we have so little of it, how can we contemplate wasting time? And yet this is exactly what relationships need: the simple wasting of time together, the going nothing in particular, the hanging around, the sitting nearby. It can be a difficult notion to grasp and to put it into action at a time when we emphasise the importance of 'outcomes' and 'goals'. Who wants to know about the significance of quantity time - unstructured, open-ended, uncontrolled - when every moment counts most urgently?

Enter quality time. When it was introduced and promoted as an opportunity for busy parents to spend time with their children, it was embraced without question Here was a publicly sanctioned way to give relationships focused attention by scheduling 'special' time. The idea was that programming 'quality time' with those closest to you could show you cared, however little time you had for them the rest of the week.

As it turns out, quality time is not all its cracked up to be. It can be no more than a rationalisation for not spending enough time with the people we love and who need us.

Our lives have become so compartmentalised that even caring for others is being slotted into a timetable, sandwiched in between the thousand and one other things that clamour for our attention.

The reality is that there are times when designating time together is a good idea. When life is particularly demanding and we're feeling stretched and frayed, then we may need to consciously arrange a period of time with the people we love. But to make a habit of scheduling time with them is to fall into the 'quality time trap'.

It's a trap because it can fool you into thinking you are attending to your children's needs when you aren't at all. Most people believe that quality time requires an intense interaction, and parents usually feel that they have achieved something by the end of the scheduled interval.

I must admit that I have fallen into this 'quality time trap' often. Not only do I do it with my children, but also God, my husband, my family and friends. I am a very purposeful person and I find it hard to just 'waste time' with my husband and children.

I have to change my way of thinking and not see it as wasted time - although it is wasted if I have begrudged the time together and not made the effort to enjoy it and delight in my family.

When I see that we have a spare weekend, sometime I think what exciting thing can we do together, go to the movies, a big park 2 hours away, down to the beach.... those things are great, and fun, but I need to remember that sometimes its just ok to hang out at home together, play cricket in the backyard, snuggle together and read books, bake cookies and share them with our neighbours, go for a walk to the park just down the road!

',,,,The value of just being together and not doing much at all remains unrecognised as we rush obsessively towards reaching goals and amassing achievements. Think about it. How prepared are you to admit to someone, anyone, that you did 'nothing much' with your child over the weekend? As more than one parent commented to me, "I feel like a lazy mother/father if I don't do all sorts of different things with my child to keep them stimulated and involved...'

....'Children simply need a lot of contact time with their parents, but not necessarily a lot of direct attention'....Notice how a little child will often protest if you move away while they play, even though you are not involved in their activity.

The reality if that children do need to come and go, to potter here and there, to experiment with this and that - and all the while they need to know that someone who cares about them is nearby.

....Every child needs special one-on-one interaction with their parents. Whether you call it 'quality time' is another matter, because I would like to think that most time, when its given freely and with an open heart, its quality time.

Apart from such focused time together, children also need plenty of unstructured and informal time, when the true relationship is deepened. It's when people who care for each other work alongside and around, but not necessarily with, each other in an intense way. This is the process that breeds independence and teaches the joys of genuine companionship.

This finding of article again was very timely for me. Last week we had a lot of time together, hanging out in the garden. Because I was in the gardening mood (inspired by the awesome Spring weather) my kids were right alongside, digging in the dirt, helping watering, playing with caterpillars and worms. I didn't have to entertain them, or play in with their games, they were content and very happy to play right alongside me, just because I was there with them, not inside somewhere out of their view.

Last week I was thinking lots about heaven, in particular how wonderful its going to be to be able to just 'hang out' with friends, family, people I haven't seen for ages. I know we need to redeem the time here on earth, but often that may involve 'wasting time' together with our children, just being there, but talking, modeling, training along the way. That's how God wants us to tell our children about Him and His word, ' of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.' (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

Monday, September 1, 2008

A small picture of heaven

I came across an article recently and as I read it I was reminded about how important a godly home is, not only to our own family, but to every person who comes into our home, Christian and non-Christan.

The author quotes from Carolyn Mahaney's book, Feminine Appeal.

"In her excellent little book Feminine Appeal, Carolyn Mahaney ecourages women to build homes in which it's "impossible to keep from thinking about God" (100). Does this seem far fetched? Consider what a faithful father, a godly mother, obedient children, and perhaps even a holy grandparent or two pictures. Is it not a small picture of heaven?"

How wonderful would it be to have a home in which it is 'impossible to keep from thinking about God!'. I love decorating my home so I don't find it hard to think of ways to put verses, pictures, reminders about God around our home, but what is a challenge is maintaining that picture above of a faithful father, godly mother, obedient children. Its the whole undertone of a house that people will pick up, the way we speak to each other, the smiles, the fun, the sense that God is in control and the giver of all things, that He is foremost amongst us. This passage from one of my favourite books, Homemaking by J R Miller also reminds me of what our home should be like, and it cuts a bit deeper!.

"There is something infinitely more important than the mere recent performance of duties. There is an unconscious influence that hangs about every day life like an atmosphere, which is more important than the words of acts of the life.

There are many parents who fail in no duty, who are deeply anxious for their children, who really strive to make their home what it should be, and whose influence is not a benediction. When the results of life are all gathered up it will probably be seen that the things which have made the deepest and most lasting impressions in our homes and upon our children have not been the things we did with purpose and intention, planning to produce a certain effect, but the things we did when we were not thinking of training or influencing or affecting any other life.

A wise writer says,

'I look with wonder on that old time, and ask myself how it is that most of the things I suppose my father and mother built especially to mould me to a right manhood are forgotten and lost out of my life. But the things they hardly ever thought of - the shadow of blessing cast by the home, the tender, unspoken love, the sacrifices made and never thought of, it was so natural to make them, ten thousand little things so simple as to attract no notice, yet so sublime as I look back at them, - they fill my heart still and always with tenderness when I remember them and my eyes with tears.'"

I remember when I first read over this passage a couple of years ago, I struggled to remember all the details of my training, discipline etc. in my childhood, but like the writer above I can clearly remember there being huge unspoken love (even if it was hardly ever said in words), many sacrifices by my father and mother, and they were always available, to help, talk, etc. It makes me wonder what things really impact my children the most!

Still I want to strive to create that small picture of heaven and grant them a childhood that they can reflect upon in joy and delight, and where people who enter our house feel welcomed and aware of the presence of God.