Friday, 30 November 2012

Five Minute Friday / Wonder

This is the last Five Minute Friday post of the year! Although I have only joined in with this writing fun a few times, I have loved the challenge of writing a post in five minutes, and the thoughts the word prompts have provoked.

There is a certain awe and wonder that lies in our hearts. I think of the wonder expressed every day by the precious three year olds I teach. They cannot help themselves. Their awe at the world and all they see around them comes spilling forth. Some quietly gasp as they look at their reflections, uttering, 'that is fantastic' at the image they see looking back at them. There is no sense of pride in these words. Just unbridled wonder. Others exclaim aloud as they feel the wonder in the sensation of taking a risk; hurtling their little bodies down steep slides, exhaling excited shrieks as they feel the adrenaline rush. As I think about the wonder in children, more and more memories come to mind of their wonder that they share so openly with me. Where does that wonder go as our experiences in life grow through each year we live? What if, as adults, we were as open with our awe and wonder as children?       

Monday, 26 November 2012

key lime pie

I received a request for a key lime pie recipe, so here is the one I used from The Hummingbird Bakery (with a slightly reduced amount of whipped cream - I used 350ml instead of 450ml). It's a very straightforward recipe, which creates a lovely thick crust, a perfectly limey middle, finished off with fresh whipped cream. I recommend eating little slices!

2 x 397g tins of condensed milk
8 egg yolks
zest & juice of 5 limes
350ml double (heavy) or whipping cream
200g butter, melted
500g digestive biscuits (American equivalent is probably graham crackers, although I understand from Wikipedia that graham crackers are drier and more brittle which might affect the texture slightly.)
1) Preheat oven to 170C / Gas mark 3 / 325F. Grease and line a 9" pie dish or springform tin
2) For the crust: Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until finely ground. If you don't have a food processor, just pop them in a zip lock bag and smash them up with a rolling pin!
3) Melt the butter then gradually add in the ground biscuits to the saucepan until all of the biscuit crumbs are coated in butter. 
4) Press the biscuit mix into the tin, evenly distributing over the base and around the sides of the tin. 
5) Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20mins then set aside to cool completely.
6) Turn the oven down to 150C / Gas mark 2 / 300F
7) In a large bowl, mix the condensed milk, egg yolks, zest & juice together, whisking by hand until well combined.
8) Pour mixture onto the cooled pie crust and bake for 20 - 30mins. When it's baked, it will feel firm to the touch, but the centre will still be slightly soft. Leave to cool completely. If possible, refrigerate overnight for best results.
9) Just before serving, whip the cream, then pipe, dollop or spread onto the top of the pie & decorate with a little more zest.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Last night we gathered with a wonderful group of people to celebrate Thanksgiving (just a day late, but it's never too late to be thankful). This is an American celebration, and we have some precious American and Canadian friends who welcomed us into their celebrations. It was a great evening filled with oh so much food & drink and thankfulness. I could have cried listening to what everyone was thankful for:

Children & their wisdom, God & His great provision, friendship, fellowship, kindness, bravery and so many other things. It was humbling to think back over the year and remember how we have changed, grown, moved forward, welcomed new people into our lives and known God's leading & loving kindness in it all.

John made the same delicious pulled pork that he cooked for my birthday, on request of our friends who were hosting Thanksgiving - we roasted it for 18 hours. Delicious. Tender. Perfect.

I made key lime pie, but in the absence of light, and the midst of celebrating, I failed to get a good photo of it. It was very tasty, but in all honesty, I got more enjoyment from making it than eating it! I loved the simplicity of the process, the zesting of lime after lime, the separating of the eggs, the crafting of the base. There's a lot of unseen beauty in the process of baking that I love. Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrated.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Five Minute Friday / Stay


As I write this, sleep has only just flown from me, my internal body clock waking its clever self from slumber just minutes before my alarm goes off. The memories of last night's dreaming are still fresh in my mind. There have been times in my life where my dreams have been poignant and profound, staying with me for days on end as I wonder at their meaning, what my subconscious is working through, what God is teaching me and showing me. (He spoke to people in dreams in the Bible, and He absolutely still does this now.) Dreams that were disconnected as day dawned, joining back together as a new night of sleep arrived. Back then, when the dreams were vivid, I had to do very little to get the dreams to stay with me once sleep had gone and a new day had beckoned. These days, it's more of a feeling that remains. A blurry feeling of a dream mixed with reality in such a way that I simply cannot remember the details. And yet, the feeling of the dream stays, albeit blurry and fuzzy, fading as the day moves forward, but staying, nonetheless in a new kind of way.


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Baby Layla

I feel like I need to preface this post with a 'hello'. It's been a while, hasn't it? I'm nearly at the end of my second week of term, and the last time I posted was while we were on holiday in Wales. How did that happen? Christmas is starting to feel remarkably close, which I am very excited about, but I can't quite get my head around the fact that this means another year will have passed and we'll be back into January before we know it.

As you might have guessed from the title of this post, one of the things I have had the joy of doing in the last two weeks is taking photos of Baby Layla. Do you remember Amy, this lovely friend of mine who I made a wedding cake for last year? She only went and had a beautiful baby girl the other week. On Saturday, I got to meet her 9 day old self, with camera in tow, of course.

If, after seeing these photos, you want to go and find the nearest newborn baby to you and give them a good snuggle / tuck them under your jumper for some extra warmth / eat them, I highly recommend it (providing you have their parents' permission, of course).. Babies are delicious, especially this one.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Welcome, November

{Lake Llangor}

I love the way the changes in seasons usher in unspoken transitions, from the necessary layering up of clothes to the desire to be cosy and warm, helped by the comfort and warmth of a crackling fire. Today. we have watched the skies mix and mingle, equal parts blue and grey, and I think yet again, how I will never tire of watching the skies. This morning we awoke to the sound of rain pitter pattering on the roof of our little holiday cottage, relishing the old-familiar sound of constant, steady rain that waters & waterlogs this land, only for the sun to break through hours later.
Each morning, we have been running, just short distances, but running nonetheless. And while it doesn't feel like it's coming naturally, it feels good to move. My relationship with running has ebbed and flowed over the years and I feel very much in a season of my body telling me that it needs to move, to fill my lungs with fresh, crisp air, and stamp the proverbial cobwebs out of my muscles that feel a little heavy with a lack of regular exercise. This week I have tried to listen to these messages, which feels that bit easier with the increase in head space that a week off work provides.  Without the mental and physical energy that work requires, there is less of a temptation to listen to that niggling inner voice that tells me to just enjoy a break rather than go running. As I ran this morning, I could feel the distinct drop in temperature, the contrast in sensations that is synonymous with Winter running, feeling like your lungs are cold even though you are breaking a sweat. Memories of running in Winter's past came flooding back, and I wondered at how I used to do this nearly every day. Running for miles, taking in the frost covered berries and leaves, watching my hot breath leave trails in the cold air, returning home with numb fingers and hot muscles. Some things are similar; the mental battle of running for a few miles before feeling like I could run forever, the feeling of the cold biting at my hands and my nose, and while these things remain the same, in their uncomfortable way, they are familiar and sometimes familiarity feels great.
This holiday has been one of great simplicity and consistency. Slow, quiet mornings, routine runs that include a chat with the horses in the field next to our cottage, reading time, enjoying quiet, solitude and just being in the company of each other, followed by afternoons at the local coffee shop, before returning home to make a roaring fire and simple comforting food to fill our bellies. Really, that has been the extent of our week, and I have loved every minute of rest, quiet and coffee.