Wednesday, 26 March 2008

a little bit of homemaking

I seem to have developed over the last few days a fever. Muffin fever. Yesterday I had no plans to bake, but as I was flicking through my Jamie Oliver recipe book (thanks Ben) looking for advice on planting seeds of the edible variety, I stumbled across a recipe for Butternut squash muffins (as pictured). Not your average muffin recipe. It just so happened that I had a butternut squash in my fridge, so I thought I'd whip some up. I invariably find that when a muffin recipe states that it makes 12 muffins, it actually makes 22/23. Why do they do this? Is it because you can't quite squeeze 24 out of the mixture, and as muffin trays tend to be 12-hole, it wouldn't be considered a 'whole batch' if they wrote the number 23? Mystifying. It turns out this recipe was no exception, meaning I was able to share the muffin-y goodness with friends (who are like an adopted family) as well as housemates. These muffins are perhaps the most moist muffins I have ever come across. Very delicious. If anyone wants the recipe, I will happily oblige. In the process of making the muffins, I came to the end of my pack of muffin cases, which I bought on thursday. This means that in the last five days, I have baked 75 muffins, hence, 'muffin fever'. Don't worry, I haven't consumed all of these by myself - I baked for church on Sunday, so a large proportion filled the bellies of the people of City Church. I love baking.

Yesterday, I took a little road trip all by myself to Almondsbury garden centre, where I purchased a whole lot of seeds. For months I have been planning to fill up the planters on our patio, take out the dead plants and replace them with new pretty things. I have never grown anything before, so this gardening business is all a bit new to me. I wish I'd paid a bit more attention to Mum when she's been sorting out her seeds, germinating, propagating, transferring, watering, and everything in between. So I am not going to be too hopeful that I will be successful in the things I've planted, as I don't really know how I should be caring for them. Just for my records, this is what I've planted (so far)...

:: Evening Primrose (white flowers)

:: Gypsophila (white)

:: Lavatera (white)

:: Candytuft dwarf fairy (pink)

:: Convolvulus royal ensign (purple)

:: Californian Poppy (Orange)

:: Godetia Unwins Dwarf (Pinks - very pretty)

Everything I planted did not state that they needed to be first put in seedling trays, or kept inside to start off with, so I'm hoping they'll cope with the unpredictable British weather, and not get too much of a battering. If anyone has any advice as to whether I need to protect them in someway, I would gladly welcome it. Hopefully there will be pretty photos in a few months time!!

Monday, 24 March 2008

Amazing.

Yesterday I was reading a few chapters from a book about the great revivals that have happened in this country. I found myself exclaiming out loud as I read of the incredible ways God has moved in Bristol, this wonderful city I live in, in previous centuries. It just compounds on what I have read about the life and works of George Muller, and the 10,000 children he cared for in this city.

In 1739, George Wesley followed in the footsteps and leading of his friend George Whitefield and starting preaching the gospel in the open air in Kingswood, Bristol. At first, he attracted some 200 listeners. Within one month that number had increased to 20,000 people. Hearing this kind of thing gets me so excited about the incredible way God saves people, and how this increases when He brings revival. When God's people start praying and seeking God to move, to change His nation, to save lives, He does exactly that. I know that this is the heart of my church in Bristol - to see this city changed. To see God break into desperate situations and bring salvation. So it excites me all the more when I hear of other people across this nation praying for the same thing in their cities. Yesterday afternoon, I was getting a lift home from church, and the song playing in the car was called 'God of this city.' The words sing of a prayer which echoes with all that we are praying for as a church...

You’re the God of this city
You’re the King of these people
You’re the Lord of this nation
You Are

Greater things have yet to come
Great things are still to be done
In this city
Greater things are still to come
And greater things are still to be done here

You’re the Lord of Creation
The Creator of all things
You’re the King above all Kings
You Are

You’re the strength in our weakness
You’re the love to the broken
You’re the joy in the sadness
You Are

Greater things have yet to come
Great things are still to be done
In this city
Where glory shines from hearts alive
With praise for you and love for you
In this city

Some may think the Church is dying, but I can assure you, that is far from the truth. Maybe right now we're not seeing 20,000 people in one part of a city flooding to hear the life giving truth of the gospel, but every day God is changing lives, reedeming the lost, bringing a people unto Himself, and He will not stop doing this. Sure, the Church is pretty broken in places, but the Church is God's bride who he is never going to stop loving and building and making glorious, and it is honestly a true joy for me to be a part of this.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

out with the old in with the new

I neglected to mention in my post yesterday that I as well as acquiring a new bike, I've managed to get rid of my old one, which I am most pleased about. Ever since discovering what a cumbersome piece of equipment it was, and ever since the bearings in the front wheel went, making it impossible to ride, I've wanted to get rid of it. On Tuesday I was going to take it to the tip with Sarah but it ended up not being possible. But when I came home last night, it was gone. Let me backtrack for a moment...about a month ago I had the bright idea that maybe if I left my old bike outside of my house unlocked, it'd get stolen. So I put it outside a month ago and have been slightly disappointed that it hasn't gone. When I came home last night and it wasn't there, I found it quite amusing how well its disappearance coincided with the new bike's arrival. Maybe it finally realised I didn't want to get it fixed and had felt outshone by the new beauty.

I don't think what I did is technically classified as fly tipping as it's on my own property, and I know I should probably have just taken it to the tip, but I was quite intrigued to see how long it would take for someone to steal it. I hope its new owners are not disappointed with their new friend.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Yesterday's news

Well, my new personal best marathon time has quickly become yesterday's news as the events of this week have unfolded. (For those of you who don't know yet, I ran the Bath Half Marathon in 1 hour 55 mins and 11 seconds.)

I mentioned a few posts ago how although I might have had a few hiccups in my childminding, at least I've never forgotten a child. Believe it or not, that happened on Monday. In all fairness, it was not exactly my fault. I'm way too tired to explain the whole story, but I can assure you that I felt quite sick when it all unfolded and spent about half an hour playing over the conversation I envisaged ensuing with my employers where they kindly told me it wasn't working out, and please would I leave. This did not actually happen, and I still have the job, until May at least (which is when we've booked up until).

Yesterday I picked up my beautiful new bike, which really is wonderful. Only problem is, the bonding process needs a bit of working on, as she threw me off into the road today, leaving me with a skinned elbow, a very painful arm and shoulder, a bruised and cut hip (through a bodywarmer, a hoodie, a long sleeved t-shirt and a vest, I might add), and a cut knee. What actually happened was that I had just left my house and was putting in my earphones when a car pulled out from the church car park. I didn't think she'd seen me, so I breaked with my one free hand, which happened to be the front brakes. Funnily enough, breaking with one hand is not the wisest thing in the world if you want to stay on your bike rather than come face to face with the road and lose your shoe in the process. I didn't have time to be shaken up as I had to get Will from school, and was already slightly pushed for time, due to the first crisis of the morning. (See next paragraph.)

Rewind to 6.45am this morning. Jo and I are standing in the kitchen and for some reason Jo's nose has led her to believe that there's a funny smell coming from the cupboard with the boiler. When she asked me if I could smell anything I said, 'No, but there is steam coming out of the cupboard. Ummm...why is there steam coming out of the cupboard?! Oh gosh, there is water pouring out of the cupboard - what on earth is going on?'

Turns out we have a major leak and all of the electricity in the house, except the lights, went out. In our wisdom, we did not reset the switch in the fuse box for the electricity, as we all know that water and electricity are the best of friends and get a little too over excited when they see each other, so it's best to avoid this scenario at all costs. (Can you tell that I am a little bit tired by the way that I am writing?!) So no hot showers for us in the morning. Thankfully we have a wonderfully helpful man who sorts us out when we get into situations like this, and he has arranged for the emergency gas man to come round tomorrow morning and fix our pipes. The fun never stops here!!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Marathon dreams

Well, I really hadn't thought I was at all nervous about running the Bath Half Marathon tomorrow, but my dreams would suggest otherwise. Last night I dreamed it was the morning of the marathon, and I had gone into Broadmead (shopping area in Bristol), except it wasn't Bristol it was Canterbury, but it wasn't the actual Canterbury. I got off the train and was in the train station that only exists in my dreams - I've been there on a number of occasions. I said 'goodbye' to some of my friends from training who I see once a month, and went on my way.

I was sitting on a bench in Broadmead, eating a Muller Light peach yoghurt and a banana, when a friend (who I'm meeting for coffee today) came along. At this point I realised that I had totally forgotten the time and it was 8.30am, which is when I'm being picked up tomorrow to go to Bath. This horrible realisation dawned on me - that I wasn't at home and ready to go, and I was still eating, 2 and a half hours before the marathon started. (You're meant to stop eating 3 hours before.)

So I went to go and find my bike to cycle home, only to realise I had no idea where I'd left it. I racked my brains and still couldn't remember, so went looking, only to get lost. I came across a man and his son getting into their red BMW, and asked for a lift. He kindly obliged, and we all climbed in to the front seats. Three people on two seats was not comfy. I observed that the car was a left hand drive car, which made no sense, being in England, but it wasn't. I can remember where we were all sitting. From one perspective it was a left hand drive, from the other side it wasn't. The man proceeded to show off his fancy schmancy car which had tv screens in the sun shields. Frankly, I couldn't have cared less. I needed to get home to run a marathon!!!

Somehow the man knew where he needed to take me, and dropped me off at the starting point. But oh no! I was still in my jeans, and still eating! What was I thinking!! I think I then saw my Dad and John frantically waving and ushering me over to talk to them, but I said, 'I've got to run!!!' And that was the end of my dream. Boy am I glad it wasn't real.

(The photo is of my running shoes and my flipflops - my favourite two sets of footwear.)

Monday, 10 March 2008

coffee & cake

There are simply not enough hours in today to get everything done that I need to. There is no way I could have done anything differently to have made more time, there just isn't enough. I've got training this week in Wimbledon. Normally this means getting up at 4.45am to get to Wimbledon for 9am. However, tonight we have got a party that I am partially responsible for, and so have to attend. Don't get me wrong - I really want to be there, but as it's at a hired venue, I need to stay until our guests leave then clear up. We have the room booked until 2am. I am pretty hopeful that none of our guests will actually stay that late, but in view of the late night, Sarah decided that she would drive back to her parents' house in Windsor, and get up at a relatively normal time to go to Wimbledon, as it's only an hour or so away from Windsor, as opposed to 3 and a half. So I decided to go back with her, as I would rather go to bed super late and get up at a normal hour than go to bed late and get up ludicrously early. Either way, I'm going to be pretty tired come lunchtime tomorrow.

I am already pretty tired as I went out twice this weekend, which is a lot for me. When I say I 'went out', I don't just mean leave the house - I do this all the time. I mean actually go out for the evening. On Friday night I went to see a friend's band play and left the house at 10pm. That is bedtime, not time to go out. I did the same the following night, but this time to see my friend Adam compete in the Bristol heat of the national beatboxing championships. He was amazing, and it was a great night - I loved both nights, but I didn't love going to bed at 1.30am and getting up for a one hour run at 7.15am. So it is for this reason that I am drinking good yummy real coffee at 4.30 in the afternoon. Normally this would mean it would take me an hour instead of a minute (quite literally) to get to sleep, but as I'm not planning on going to sleep for a good few hours yet, I'm not too worried.

Right, I now have an hour to plan worship for youth this evening, pack for the week, finish my essay and have a shower, oh and have a bit of dinner. Ha! How is that going to happen?!

Friday, 7 March 2008

forgetful, forgetting, forgotten

I have never thought of myself as a particularly forgetful person, but my current childminding job seems to bring out all of the forgetfulness in me - it only seems to manifest itself in this area of my life. When I got home today and realised that I had left my diary and a can of photo mount spray at their house, I went visibly red with embarassment. This has never happened to me when there is no-one else around! Fortunately, I am not going to be without my diary - as I am away on training next week, it could have been quite problematic. The family I childmind for know the leader of my church and his family - the two girls are good friends with two of his daughters. One of them is having a birthday sleepover tonight, so my employers are taking my diary to give to them to pass on to me.

What makes this slightly more embarrassing is the fact that on Wednesday, after childminding I went to Simon and Kate's house (church leader) to babysit, only to discover that I still had Will's bookbag in my rucksack. It just so happened that Kate is in the same book club as my employer, which just so happened to be on that evening, so she was able to return it for me. So there has been a continuous exchange of items between them, all because of me. These aren't just one off incidences - I cannot count the number of times we've come home from school only to realise we've left something behind or brought home someone else's bag. At least I haven't left any children anywhere yet!

Thursday, 6 March 2008

success

Thanks to my wonderfully helpful older brother, I was able to overcome some ridiculously simple problems (a reflection of my ignorance, not his level of intelligence!) and sort out some scans I did of my photos two weeks ago. Here are a few of my favourites:


These two photos were inspired by a dream and a passage in Isaiah 61



This is one of my favourite little people




These were some of the first flowers to bloom in the garden of my new house (when it was still new)


This is one of my all time favourite photos that I have taken

Bristol graffiti

I seem to be a bit lacking in words for blogging at the moment, so here are a few photos from my walk home today...

I know this might not look like the most exciting graffiti but it's sprayed in silver which looks particularly good when the light shines on it at the right angle.


This is some of my favourite graffiti at the moment - very pretty blue flowers.


And 0ne of many big long walls full of lots of different pieces of artwork...

Sunday, 2 March 2008

balloons part 2

The balloons pictured below have been sitting high up in the tree tops near where I live for over a week now and seem to be faring well. I like them, I'm sorry this photo does not do them justice.


Here is some grafitti that is also near my house, which makes me chuckle - it is very accurately Bristolian.


(That's the camel speaking!)

And here's what my fingers looked like after my 10 mile run this morning. I'm getting slightly concerned about this - when I get back from a long run, I lose the feeling in my fingertips for a while. Normally it's my two middle fingers, but today it was the top twp joints of all eight of my fingers. It feels very bizarre, washing my hair with no feeling in my fingers.


Today has been spent at church. I was leading the kids work this morning. I really do love them, even though they just wouldn't stop talking today. It's nice that they want to tell me all their thoughts and all about their worlds, and the things they're learning about. They're a great bunch who are all growing up too fast.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

adventures

Today we (my old housemates and I) did something I've wanted to do for a long time. We selected a random place on a map and drove there. That had not been the original plan. I had had the wonderful idea of going to Bowood house, a beautiful stately home, to have a nice stroll and a cream tea. I'm not very good at organising fun events for friends, but it's something I want to be better at, and was quite pleased with myself that I had thought of a unique place to go, and that all the girls were excited about going. However, my lack of observation meant that I neglected to read the part of the Bowood House website that mention that it doesn't actually open until March 19th. Fortunately, Sarah had the wisdom to look on the website for directions, and spotted this rather crucial fact.

So we adopted my approach of let's just look for somewhere vaguely exciting and go there. I suggested finding a farm, and Rachel loved this idea, so I found a farm in the middle of nowhere (Mangotsfied, to be precise), handed Sarah the map and said with glee, 'Let's go!!' Delighting in the fact that as the designated driver, I was not responsible for navigating us, therefore we were guaranteed to at least get within the remote region of where we were hoping to go, rather than an hour away in the wrong direction, which is what would have happened had I been the navigator.

We found the farm with very little trouble. (Except for the part when I ignored Sarah and followed the signs, and ended up going the long way round.) It turned out that the farm was not the type that you can go and visit and we got some funny looks from some young lads on dirt bikes. It also turned out that we got more than expected - we thought we'd just be finding a far but lo and behold, there was a quarry too! And an old sofa and dead kitchen equipment.

Having been disappointed by the lack of cows and other lively livestock, we decided to head on to our next destination: Pucklechurch. Why? Because it had a good name. Sadly there was nothing exciting there either. So we headed to Chipping Sodbury and managed to get lost in this little village. That was because I was the only one of us who had been there before, and so they were relying on me to get us to the main strip of shops. Funny thing is, there is a well known fact that in Britain, the main strip of shops is called the High Street, so you'd think that looking at a map of a small villge, it'd be quite easy to find the 'High Street'. Having stared at the map for a good number of minutes, I announced to my friends, 'I have no idea where we are or how to get where we're trying to go.' Sarah took the map from me and said, 'oh look - there's the High Street - maybe we should head there.' Why on earth does all logic evade me?

My lack of any internal compass continued to shine through once we got to the High Street, and my friends, who have known me for four years, were astounded at just how non existent my sense of direction is. Fun times.