Friday, 16 August 2013

The next steps...

I can't really believe that we are only 2.5 weeks away from the start of term! The summer seems to have picked up pace and is flying by.
In some ways, its been a weird summer - lots of smaller trips rather than a big holiday and quite a bit of time at home. I have worked in the office every day this week while Andy has been with the Button and Bean and next week I'm working too, with a couple of appointments out of the house but mostly during the evenings and Isaac's naps. 
Having said that, Andy is about to head off on two big trips - firstly to Soul Survivor on Sunday for 5 nights with a group of 9 from Emmanuel joining together with a bigger group from Billericay. Its always a brilliant week but pretty exhausting...! 
Then he gets back for a couple of days and we head off on Sunday 25th to my parents before he flies to Tennessee for his extended placement with Jack King and Apostles Anglican in Knoxville. 
I'm really excited for him, particularly for the trip to USA. Jack has put a lot of time and effort into planning the 2 weeks for Andy so he gets a really wide ministry experience - preaching, small groups, pastoral visiting, music stuff & community initiatives plus reflection and conversation with the congregation and staff at Apostles and just the chance to experience the culture of Anglicanism in the Deep South. 
But I am a bit daunted too by the prospect of almost 3 weeks home alone, with kiddies missing their Daddy and trying to hold it all together with the start of term and work and parenting. Matilda is having a couple of days at the local church holiday club and then we'll do some back to school shopping and some play dates too. Once we are all back in the new term routine I think it will feel easier - but all those evenings by myself are not my idea of fun! So I have plans to get the kids record books up to date- I keep notebooks with any special cards or things they write or any words of scripture, prophecy, wisdom that I get for them, or their godparents or others share. I'm also going to sort out my crafting materials, in the hope of being able to make more use of them when I'm at home recuperating after my surgery next month and as the nights draw in. 
Alongside all that (!) we're also preparing - physically, emotionally and spiritually - for our move on from Emmanuel in October. The ministry of Deeper is exciting and something we are really looking forward to but it's going to be hard to leave behind the youth and church family and friends. Many of them will still be part of our lives but its a change which we need to get our heads round.
And.....we have also been asked to consider a curacy parish for next summer, once Andy is ordained. Prayers, visits, conversations all needed over the next few weeks and as soon as I'm allowed to share more details, I will! 

Some pics of our recent Scarborough trip to see our new niece Isobel and her family...

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Busy boxes

Have spent part of today putting together a number of boxes of varied activities for my two, hoping to keep them and me sane while Andy is away for the majority of the next 3 weeks. He goes to Soul Survivor on Sunday for 6 days and then to USA on 28th for 2 weeks. 

Principle is simple - a selection of new and interesting bits and pieces in a special box for each child which are brought out for limited periods, maybe when quiet times are needed or they are needing distraction or just for the fun of it. 
I've been collecting bits for a while and got round to putting them together today.

So, each one is packed with a few different activities. For Matilda, things like small activity books, block paints, stickers, beads, puzzles etc. For Isaac, sorting games, pipe cleaners, toilet rolls to put things in and draw on, calculator, pegs, stickers etc. I have also got some bigger bits - a cookie tray with magnetic letters, Hama beads for Matilda, rolls of paper etc. which are brought out to complement all that. We still have the toy baskets in the lounge for everyday play and books etc. available all the time.
I know that we will refine and change them as we go - I also know that things like the block paint mit be a mistake but a 6 and a half, I am sure Matilda can use them sensibly. It's more about things which don't require a lot of set up and will occupy them for a good 30 minutes, maybe when I'm cooking dinner or bathing one or the other.
Loads of ideas on Pinterest for these things - check out my board 'Kids Time', search for Busy Bags or Boxes or Quiet Time boxes or Sensory Tubs for other ideas. 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013


Sharing a family recipe: my mum used to write down recipes from the TV when my sister and I were babies. They are often on small scraps of paper, like memo note block sheets and usually in shorthand with cup rings and splashes of butter or whatever. 
Anyway, she recently allowed me access to the special box where she keeps all these recipes and agreed I could take the recipe for Gunge, which is one of my favourites! We used to have it on holiday which was often on my Grandad's boat and involved a daily picnic on the beach somewhere. I remember tasting dates on their own for the first time and only then realising that Gunge contained dates. It's basically a yummy sticky caramelly tray bake. Comforting and with a lovely sticky and crunchy texture. Enjoy!! 

This is the original scrap I was given:

And this is the translation:
2 tbsp of self raising flour (it says 1 but that is wrong!)
3/4 tbsp of walnuts (or other nuts, I have used pistachios and almonds)
I cup of dark soft brown sugar
1/2 pack of stoned dates - not the ones in a tray. In a pack, usually with whole foods and baking in the supermarket.
4oz butter
1 egg

Melt butter and dates in a pan (did try this in the microwave as with the Foolproof flapjack recipe but the dates completely disintegrated!) until soft.
Add sugar and rest of ingredients, apart from the egg.
Mix together.
Finally add the egg and combine gently, trying to keep some of the dates in shape! 
Mixture will appear quite moist - which is fine! If it is dripping in a torrent off the spoon, add a little more flour.
Put in a lined tin and cook at 190c for 20-30 minutes.

I usually double this recipe and it goes perfectly in a deep sided roasting tin. 
I melted the sugar in with the dates and butter this time and this makes it even quicker. 
When I first made this, Andy accused me of having kept it from him for last 12 years of our relationship! He describes it as the sauce from a sticky toffee pudding made into a sticky yummy cake! 
It keeps for ages (well, it could do if we didnt eat it!!) and doesn't melt so great for journeys or picnics.