Titus 2:3-5

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A few seasonal favourite recipes.

A few friends have asked for some of my seasonal favourite recipes so I thought it would be easiest to just share them here.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
(This has become one of our favourite Thanksgiving traditions in our home, and a nice alternative to pumpkin pie.)

1 cookie/biscuit crust in a springform cake pan
(in the USA normally Graham Crackers, in the UK normally Digestive Biscuits. This year I used homemade ginger biscuits [recipe to follow] which added a nice flavour.)

2 x 8oz pkts cream cheese, room temp
1 cup sugar
1-2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup whipping cream
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp each of ginger & nutmeg
1/8 tsp (pinch) cloves
1/8 cup flour
4 eggs, room temp
1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin

1. Combine cream cheese, sugar & vanilla.
Add sour cream & whipping cream
Beat until just smooth

2. Mix in spices & flour.
Add eggs one at a time, beating in between.
Beat in pumpkin.
Do Not Over Beat, it will make the cheesecake sink.
3. Pour the mixture onto the crust evenly.
Place in the middle rack of the oven.
Put a pan of water on the lower rack.
Bake for 15 min at 350f/180c/gas4
Then lower to 300f/140c/gas2 for 70min.

4. When done turn off the oven but leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door ajar for about 30min.
Cool completely on a wire rack.
Cover with cling film/plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

Shah Biscuits (Ginger Cookies)
I got this recipe when I lived in Malawi. It came from a lovely missionary wife called Betsy Mann who had previously been a missionary in the Lebanon, where she got the recipe. She is also the wonderfully wise lady who taught me to keep balls of cookie dough in the freezer ready to bake at a moments notice when unexpected guests arrived. Thanks Betsy.

1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp syrup
2 cups flour
1 level tbsp soda
1 level tbsp ginger
1 level tbsp mixed spice/allspice

1. Cream together the butter & sugar.

2. Add the egg & syrup, mix together.

3. Add all the other ingredients and mix thoroughly.

4. Roll into small balls.

5. Place on a tray at least 1 inch apart.

6. Bake at 300f/140c/gas2 for 15min.

7. Cool on a wire rack.

If using these for the cheesecake you might want to bake for a few extra minutes, otherwise they might be too chewy to crumble for the crust.

Cinnamon Swirl Cookies
The smell of these baking in the oven always reminds me of Christmas. They are a light crunchy cookie/biscuit that are perfect for a mug of steaming hot coffee or a nice cup of tea.

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp b. soda
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs

For filling
softened butter
1 cup brown sugar

1. Beat together butter & sugar, beat in the eggs.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients until just combined.

3. Refrigerate for at least an hour (or over night.)
(For the next step it is easier to divide the dough in two at this stage.)

4. Roll out dough on a floured surface, then refrigerate for another 10min.

5. Mix together some butter and the sugar from the filling.
(I use about 2-3 tbsp of butter.)
Spread evenly over the rolled out dough.
Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon.

6. Roll the dough into long logs and chill again for at least an hour.

7. Cut dough into 1/4 inch slices.
Place on baking tray about 2 inches apart.
Bake at 350f/180c/gas4 for 20 min. (or until only lightly golden brown.)

Hope you enjoy these treats. I'll try to add pictures later as the baby has woken up and I need to tend to him.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's all change around here.

The last few weeks have seen a lot of changes for us.

Aiden said his first real word this week. It was "Dada." I asked him where his Dada was and he looked at Rob and said Dada. Our precious little boy is beginning to talk. It is so cute.

Aiden with his Dada

He is also changing his nap pattern yet again. Just when we think we can plan around naptime it changes. This is a change for the better though. Aiden is taking at least one of his naps as a long nap of two hours or longer. This is hopefully the start of the transition to two longer daytime naps instead of the current four nap routine. We might even be able to leave the house occasionally once we get into a two nap routine. However I am grateful that he even naps for an hour, as only six weeks ago he wouldn't nap for more than twenty minutes a few times a day.

The biggest change for us however is that we have moved. We were planning on this for a while. We have also downsized too, which suits me a whole lot better. We were previously in a large 2300sqft. single family home. It was on two floors and the high ceilings downstairs made for a lot of stairs to get up to the second floor. Keeping such a large house was fine until Aiden came along.

Then we ended up camping out in the family room. Because of my emergency c-section we moved some key pieces of nursery furniture downstairs. Most never made the return journey back to the nursery. It was much easier to just leave it all in the family room. We only went upstairs to go to bed, and so the chores up there got pretty much neglected. We rarely got to sit down at the table to eat together, as one of us was always attending to Aiden, so the dinning room also fell into disuse. Like I already wrote, we basically lived in our family room and adjoining kitchen.

It was an expensive house to not be living in most of it. And after Aiden still showing signs of remembering our spiritual trial at the end of October, we knew moving was the best thing for all of us.

We have moved to a cosy little two bedroom apartment. Its on the ground floor so we don't have any stairs to deal with any more. It has a total of 1100sqft, which is less than half of what we had before, but we still managed to fit everything we actually use, and it doesn't look over crowded. It will also force us to keep our life simple, as there is no room for storing any extra "stuff" just because we might use it one day.

Now I can keep on top of the chores, and keep our home as clean as I used to. Aiden is sleeping even better, and is all around even happier and more contented. Even Rob is more relaxed now that he doesn't have any yard work to do, but still has a patio to enjoy and grill on.

We have wonderful community facilities including a heated swimming pool and 24hr access to a gym. In our first week we have met more of our neighbours than we did in three years at our old neighbourhood. Everyone in this new neighbourhood is really friendly, and they have regular community events to help people get to know each other. I feel more at home here in just a week than I ever did in our previous place. It just shows that having a large home isn't always the best.

I know for most people the idea of downsizing seems impossible. For us it makes sense in so many different ways. It is more economical, easier to keep, friendlier, and more relaxing for all of us. Less space also means less possessions, which means less temptation to purchase things we don't really need. This in turn will save us more money. Every way we look at it our new home is one of the best decisions we have made together.

We have been so blessed to find this new home. We have been blessed to have Aiden adjust to it without any problems. We are so blessed to have such friendly neighbours. We praise the Lord of all blessings for leading us here at just the right time.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Guarding the home

There has been a lot happening in our home recently. Much of it has pushed me and my darling husband into a time of seeking the Lord in a way we have never done as a couple. November was a month that has changed us both deeply, and for the better. Perhaps our biggest lesson has been about how we, as a couple, guard our home.

Through a spiritual trial that effected our 6 month old son we realised just how easy it is to let our guard slip, and let the world (and the enemy) slowly take over our home. Through a long series of events during our first two years living in the same home we had let our guard down. The cable TV had been connected, our DVD collection, while mostly classics, contained many films that we should not be watching (just the use of blasphemy alone, even once, whittled down our collection by over 70%), books, music CD's and even vacation souvenirs all had brought the world into our home.

With a lot of prayer and humility we went through our home and cleansed it of all the items we knew we should not have. Some required some research to find out if they had pagan origins, and therefore wrong spiritual influence. The enemy is a legalist, and anything we freely bring into our home with ungodly associations give him ground to enter too. So we tossed the souvenir lei from our vacation to Hawaii last year. That was all the easy part.

Now comes the more difficult task of keeping our home guarded. As the festive season approaches there is a lot of temptation to bring back in many items that have pagan origins and ungodly influences. The most obvious for us was the Christmas tree. We will now be a tree free home in December. I've kept some of the tree decorations and arranged them in bowls to decorate our table instead. Yet there are so many parts of the Christmas celebrations that have pagan origins it is difficult to know what to keep and what to eliminate. Yet it is worth the effort to figure this out for our family.

I know many will think we are being extreme in some of the choices we make as we walk this path. I freely acknowledge that this is extreme compared to most, and certainly compared to everyone around us. It may not be the path the Lord leads others down, but it is the path to which He has led us. Rob and I are still processing what it means for us as a couple, and us as a family. Yet always we keep in mind why we are doing this. Our wonderful, precious 6 month old son is totally dependent on us for everything, including his spiritual well-being (for now.) He is a gift from the Lord, for us to take care of. It will be years before he is old enough to understand he is a sinner, and that he needs saved from the punishment of his sins. Until he reaches that point we have to guard him from ungodly influences and keep his heart tender to respond to the Holy Spirit.

It won't be easy. There are no guarantees either. Yet with prayer and vigilance we will be doing everything we possibly can to make sure our precious baby never has to go through a month like last month ever again.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

More Thanksgiving!

I'm not quite ready for Thanksgiving to be over and Christmas to be rushing towards me.

Don't get me wrong, we're organised for Christmas. The presents are all purchased, or ready to put together. The overseas gifts have been mailed.

I just want to linger in the glow of Thanksgiving (and Autumn/Fall) a little longer before I plunge into Christmas, New Years (and Winter) and all that it entails.

I have so much to be thankful for this year.

My darling son is six months old today.

Aiden is the sweetest baby boy we could ever hope for. Keep him rested, fed and dry and all you will hear are giggles and shrieks of delight. The child just oozes joy and contentment. I am learning so much from him every single day. He is sitting up without support, and his favourite toy this week is his feet. I'm not sure if he realises they belong to him, but he loves to play with them anyway.

I have a wonderful, loving husband. Rob is so much more than I could have dreamed my husband would be. He is a strong leader and proud to be the head of this home and family. He goes out to work every day to provide for us, with never a word of complaint about the long commute or the unreasonable expectations of those he works for. He is more than happy to be the sole bread winner, and allow me to stay at home. He enjoys coming home knowing that we are here to greet him and tell him how much we have missed him.

I have a supportive family, even though they are so far away in Scotland. Thanks to the internet (and Facebook) we are able to keep up with each others lives.

I have amazing friends scattered all over the world, who love me enough to have kept in touch through out the years as our journeys have led us to different parts of the world.

These are blessing indeed, and riches beyond compare. Yet they all shadow into nothing compared to the love I have from my Saviour and Lord. I have been saved from the punishment of my sins by the shedding of His blood at Calvary. I have restored fellowship with the Creator of the Universe because of His sacrifice. I have eternity in His presence to look forward to when my time on earth is over. One day He is coming back, and I get to come back with Him.

I am blessed.

I am humbled.

I am loved.

I am thankful.

So please indulge me a little longer, if I linger just a bit in the glow of Thanksgiving. I have much to be thankful for, and no rush to finish saying it.

Have a blessed day.

Lilypie First Birthday tickers

Lilypie First Birthday tickers

Baby Mordecai

Our blessed first baby, Mordecai, gone to heaven on July 23, 2009 at 13 weeks gestation.

You will never be forgotten by us.