Monday, 24 November 2014

Beautiful Bruges...

On the early hours of Saturday morning, I stumbled out of my bed at 4.45am, pulled on my clothes, gobbled down a quick bowl of cereal, grabbed my bag and headed out the door into the icey darkness to meet with 76 other ladies of all ages from our church. We were off to Bruges for the day!

Fabulous food, great company, historic architechture, incredible shop displays, cute market stalls and a general Christmassy feel - Bruges did not disappoint. I cannot give it justice in words, but perhaps the photos can...

... I will let them speak for themselves.

Needless to say, the £40 I spent to get there (I know, amazing, right?!) was worth every penny just for the discovery of Dille & Kamille, which is now my new favourite shop in the entire world (literally!) Sadly it cannot be found in the UK, but if I ever find myself in Belgium or Holland again, I will be looking them up. It was the most gorgeous shop I have ever been into, and I literally could have bought out their entire stock!

If you ever get the chance to visit this gorgeous city during the festive period, grab it with both hands... it truly was a fantastic day!

Stunning canals
Horse-drawn carriages everywhere!

On the river cruise
Yup - those tools are made of chocolate!
Token selfie!
Did you know there were this many kinds of marzipan?!
Market Square
No-one does chocolate shops like the Belgians!
Gorgeous step gables...
Belgian Waffles. Enough said.
My new favourite shop...
Goodbye gorgeous Bruges... I hope I'll be back one day!
We made it back in one piece by 9.30pm - exhausted, tired, but very happy... and having a day away from my little family made me so glad to be back with them again. Sometimes when you take a step out for a day, you realise just how blessed you are.

Now on with another busy week!

Friday, 21 November 2014

World's Easiest Cheese Scone...

A few weeks back, Ava came home from School with a scone recipe. I promptly filed it and forgot all about it, until Tuesday, when she announced she'd like to bake something, and I wracked my brains trying to think of something, anything I could bake with only the basic ingredients I had in the house. I stumbled across aforementioned scone recipe and it was a dream!

Seriously, like the easiest, yummiest, quickest recipe I think I've EVER come across.

And of course, I just had to share!

It took us less than ten minutes to throw together, was so simple that Ava managed to do all of it herself, and it tastes DIVINE (especially when eaten straight out of the oven with a bit of melted butter!

So here you go!!
225g (8oz) Self-Raising Flour
50g (2oz) Butter
75g (3oz) Cheese
120 ml (4 fl oz) milk

Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees/Gas mark 7

Step One: Rub together the butter and flour to make breadcrumbs
Step Two: Add the cheese (leave a little for sprinkling later) and mix in before pouring in the milk
Step Three: Stir the mixture with a knife and bring dough together to form a ball
Step Four: Flour a clean surface and place the ball of dough on it. Flatten the ball to about 3cm thick.
Step Five: Place on a greased baking tray and cut into 8 pieces (as above)
Step Six: Brush with milk and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Place it in oven. Bake for approximately 25 minutes
Step Seven: Devour... it's delicious!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Christmas Journey: Savouring the Season

Every year, there is one event that kick-starts my festive preparations... it still feels, in many ways, far too early to be even mentioning the "C" word, but at the same time, I've started the shopping, bought in some of the food for the freezer and begun to have "christmassy" conversations with the girls. And when the "Christmas Journey" event comes round, I allowing myself the luxury of not feeling so guilty about allowing a little of the festive spirit to enter our home...

The Christmas Journey is an interactive, thought-provoking journey for children through the Christmas story. Our church have run it for the past few years and it is fabulous. The story comes to life as actors, puppets and incredible sets come together to take the children back in time. The girls were in awe - Ava mesmerised, and Heidi slightly afraid of the shepherd that kept reappearing!

The children are taken on a journey through six scenes. In the first tent, they travel back in time, right back to the beginning, where the story of creation and fall is told using visuals and Makaton. The storyteller carefully told the story of creation and then showed how the Fall had ruined the relationship God had with people. And so an idea is planted in the children's mind; a rescue plan is needed...

A shepherd guides the children between the scenes, explaining that God's rescue plan is about to be revealed to them as they go... next stop, Mary's house!
We were led into a kitchen in Nazareth where a young lady is busy kneading dough. Above her, washing is strung out as freshly baked loaves line the side. The house is simple, but lived in. Little touches of homeliness are scattered around as Mary introduces herself. She hands out the dough to the children, inviting them to help her as she chatters merrily about her plans to marry in the near future...

Suddenly we are interrupted. In the corner of the room a towering angel appears with a very important message for Mary. The children sit, open-mouthed.
We are led to the next scene. A hillside and an abandoned fire... the children are encouraged to question; where have the shepherds gone? Its a cold night but the place is empty...

Suddenly, the angel returns... with more news. We scurry off with the children to find the baby they are talking of...

We enter a stable. A baby lies in the corner, wrapped up in some old cloths and laid in a feeding trough. A man sleeps in the corner as Sarah (a puppet) introduces herself. Joseph awakes and shares with the children the wonder of last night's events. They speak in excited but hushed voices as the children watch, mesmerized.
Another tent. A tent with riches and incense. A man, dressed in beautiful robes, explains that he is packing for a journey. He's going to meet a King. He shows the children the scrolls he has and points out the star up above in the sky. He shows the children the gifts he and his friends plan to take with them. They smell the frankincense and handle the gold. Looks of wide-eyed wonder from some, and uncontrollable questions and excitement from others. These kids are hooked.
We finish up in a lounge. Comfy sofas, a christmas tree and a roaring fire. This is a scene we all recognise. A lot like home. And here, a man explains to the children what their time travelling has to do with today... why this baby was important. Why this baby is important - and why he came.
Our littlest lady is still a little young to understand it all... but she stood before that great tree - eyes wide and gazed up in wonder, turning to me and grinning - "WOW!" This Christmas is going to be fun with her... she has no memory of the last.

The last stop, a song. A song to summarise all that the children have just seen. They sing along merrily and join in the actions and I remember again why I'm so glad that Christmas is so much more than magic and presents. It's the source of all our hope.

When we had finished our journey, we headed into the cafe for mulled wine and Christmas cookies. The perfect end to the beginning of the festive season!

Savouring the Season is all about celebrating the season we find ourselves in...whether it be recipes, crafts, outdoor adventures or reflections on life, link up and share some comment love! And don't forget to grab a badge!

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Monday, 17 November 2014

Taking stock...

I'm feeling a little tired these days... perhaps its the dark nights closing in, perhaps its the routine of the school run finally hitting home (and realising I'm going to be doing it for the next few years without fail), perhaps its the busy weekend behind me (which included my sister-in-law's baby shower and I FORGOT MY CAMERA... still kicking myself!), perhaps its just this season - the approach of Christmas, events to organise, busyness and an ever growing to-do list. I thrive on it at times, and other times it all just feels a little overwhelming.

So this morning, as I roll out of bed, dress two little people and pack one off to school, thank God for my husband who blitzed the house yesterday so I don't have to today (honestly... that man's amazing), spend the morning looking after my littlest and a friend's little boy and preparing for a lunch with some lovely friends, I'm thanking God for a quieter day (or at least afternoon!), and I'm taking stock.

What a joy it is to be busy, to be active, to be able to be involved in all these different projects and activities. I may wish some days I could just curl up in a corner with a good book. But one day, I know, if I make it to old age, I'll be sitting in a corner with a good book because that's all I can do (if my eyesight hasn't failed me) and looking back on these days of (at times) manic busyness with rose-tinted glasses and wish I could still have my finger in any pie, never mind six at once.

But I am realising I need to be a little bit wise too... and so I'm soaking up the words of one of my old favourites... I'm reading "Shopping for Time" again... possibly for the fourth time. But I need that reminder often...

Our lives are never static or stationary. New seasons keep rolling in - each with its own unique joys and challenges. In fact, just about the time we adjust to our present season, it's time to make way for a new one! And while we must walk with open eyes and make wise choices in each season, our comfort is this - God orders the seasons of our lives. Even the most difficult ones.
- Shopping for Time - Mahaney, Whitacre, Chesemore and Bradshaw -

Once in a while, its good to score out a quiet afternoon and make some time to take stock. Give time to think, plan, organise and give it all to the one who holds all our times in his hands...

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Encouragement for the day...

Its Friday. I'm tired, the girls are tired. We're ready for the weekend.

And sometimes, what you need on a Friday morning, is a little early morning encouragement. So I thought I'd share it with you this morning as I roll out of bed, bleary eyed, and try and get up and started before the little people wake.

Have a wonderful weekend lovely


Stopped in my tracks... Savouring the Season

This is the week I always stop dead in my tracks with Savouring the Season. Firework Night has been and gone, winter is well and truly setting in, but advent and Christmas are still out of reach. In reality, I started my Christmas shopping this week, in my head, plans are afoot for the return of the Kindness Elves, and I'm up to my eyeballs with planning a number of different Christmas events I'm helping out with.

And when life's like this, home becomes a little haven. Busy mornings followed by quiet afternoons with the children become time to just soak each others company up, play board games, read books, repeat puzzles over and over again, lick the cake mix spoon, trudge the school run backwards and forwards in wellies through wet leaves, and wake bleary eyed children from naps who seem to go into hibernation and would sleep right up to bedtime if you'd let them.

And I feel a little guilty that we're not really "savouring" this season.

Until I realise that actually, that's exactly what we're doing. Cosying up in our little house, protected from the wind and the rain outside is exactly what dark November days are all about. 

Making memories doing the stuff of life.


Savouring the Season is all about celebrating the season we find ourselves in...whether it be recipes, crafts, outdoor adventures or reflections on life, link up and share some comment love! And don't forget to grab a badge!

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Monday, 10 November 2014

Sisters in November

It really is too late in the year for ice-cream. But when you're coastside in Cornwall, somehow an ice-cream is a must, even if its freezing cold and a little on the windswept side.

Half term was a lovely chance for these girlies to spend some quality time together. And while Ava's now well and truly back into the swing of school, the first few days she kept asking to stay home to play with Heidi. It sort of breaks my heart a little that we're having these conversations when she's only just three. A big part of me wants to just say "OK, just stay home with us," but I know her Pre-school has been so good for her, and I don't want her to miss out. It's all good preparation for full-time school next year. One of the downsides of being a summer born baby.

She's always happy walking through the school gate anyway.

But back to Cornwall and ice-cream.

Heidi devoured her strawberry baby cone within a couple of minutes, and then looked on wishfully as Ava slowly but steadily worked through her small ice-cream... and then there was one of those moments where your heart melts a little bit as a mother, and Ava leaned across and shared her ice-cream...

... and yes, she did that hilarious thing that most parents do when they're feeding their children. She opened her little mouth wide too as Heidi tucked in!

Two little sisters in November.

dear beautiful