A Fall Visit on Patrice's Porch

Well, Patrice, it's so lovely to have a wee visit with you on your porch. You certainly wouldn't be sitting on any porch here today, so to think of your porch is dreamy indeed.

1. What was the last thing you baked?

I made four franzipans the other day. I posted the recipe for them here.

I did say in that post that I sprinkle them with icing sugar (confectioner's sugar) when they're done, but it's actually caster sugar (superfine?) I use.

I also said in that post that Margaret Thatcher had told me something. I assume y'all guessed that Margaret Thatcher had said it, but not directly to me.

2. What is your favourite thing about the Fall?

Hmmm ... That's kinda hard for me to answer. We have had a wonderful summer in many ways: while the rest of the UK had the wettest summer on record, we - here in Lewis - had one of the driest ever. For those in some doubt, dryness in summer is good when you live in Scotland.

But although it was good and dry, it wasn't warm. I actually felt warmth for about a week at the beginning of August. By warm, I mean our temperatures were in the 70s. I love being warm, and so the definite change in temperatures this week is not filling me with the greatest of joy.

Today, our winds have reached 70mph, but I'm thankful that these winds cause us no harm.... unlike the poor folks around the Gulf Coast of your country, Patrice.

3. What's your favourite room in the house?

I do love the Family Room. It feels like its name.

It feels like the way this fella is sitting.

I love the sofas;

I love being surrounded by books;

I love looking out the window at scenes like this in the evenings.

And when this little fella came to visit, this is where he crawled on the floor, 

and gave us these adorable smiles.

He's now a bigger wee boy, but is still just as adorable. I couldn't resist posting these photos.

4. Who handles bill paying in your house?

Me. I wish it wasn't, but it is.

5. Tell whatever you'd like to share with our chatting friends.

"Trust in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3: 5, 6)

This has always been a lovely verse to me, but over the past few months, it's become new to me in a very special way. As our children become older, and we are having to make decisions that have a greater bearing on life than what to make for their dinner, or what clothes to buy for them, our dependence on God for His direction becomes greater. Over the past year, we have seen God's directing of our paths very clearly. I pray I would continue - more and more - to acknowledge Him in ALL our ways, and that He would continue to direct our paths.


Beached Whale ....

Beached Whale ... and it's not me in a wet suit...

Katie and I took a run down to Port Beach today,

because we were told there was a ...

beached whale.

It was breezy, very cool and there were heavy showers soaking us.  

But when there are beached whales in the vicinity, bloggers head off with camera in hand.

And here's the Minke whale that was washed up on the shore earlier today.

That is some size o' tongue...

I spoke with two Marine somethings....

who reckoned the whale died a day or two ago.

I also spoke with a local fisherman, 

who reckoned it had been dead for weeks.

Going by the smell ...

I'd be more inclined to go with the 'weeks' theory.

Although, of course, I'm no expert.

Except on smells, and that smell is still in my nostrils.

And I need a coffee and cake to get rid of it.


The Winner!

We have a winner! 

Our winner here on the blog is Ben, comment #23. So, Ben, e-mail me so I can get in touch with you!

Thanks to all who entered, and Happy Reading, Ben!

I also noticed this mention of The Thunder on Tim Challies' blog yesterday. 


Giveaway Reminder

Have you commented on the Giveaway post yet? If not, you only have a few more hours to go: it ends at midnight, UK time. And remember, you can also comment on the Facebook status from 15th August.

Only one comment per person on the blog. And one on the FB page.

And just because I love y'all so much, I leave you with our very intelligent looking Jackson, this photo having been taken from his good side.


A Visit on Patrice's Porch. And some Joke-telling.

Welcome once more to Patrice's Porch

1. Are you a list maker? (grocery, to-dos, goals, etc)

Ohhhhh, yes! I make lists that would impress anyone.

I keep them in such a way to impress nobody.

Such is my life. I make grocery lists and leave them on the kitchen worktop. That's handy for the supermarket...

I make to-do lists for most days. I have a notebook beside my bed, and I sleep more quickly if I write all my 'tomorrow's to-dos' before I hit the pillow. It's a wonderful aid to sleep. Sadly, writing the list doesn't perform the list. 

One day, I'll have that part sorted too.

2. Do you have overnight guests often?

Well, fairly often, I guess, but not as often as our kids would like! We have our friends The Watts (head over to the link to learn how we first met) to stay a couple of times each year, and we're looking forward to them visiting in a few weeks from now.

Our good friend from the US of A is also coming back soon. We are so excited about that! When I told the kids at the table the other night that she'd booked the flights, I said, "Oh, Laurie's coming home. She's booked her flights." There was a chorus of Oh fantastic! It seems like ages! Can't wait to see her! and after some time, DR said to me: "I just realized what you said. You said that Laurie was 'coming home'. The strangest thing is that none of us thought that was out of place". Freudian slip, methinks ;)

That's her of the real, American cookies,

on our Independence Day celebrations.

Her of the pea planting, 

and of the Viking headgear.

And yes, her who earned her keep by lifting some of last year's peats.

And her of The Coffee Cake.

In fact, the Builder asked if it'd be reasonable to empty our freezers, lock Laurie in the kitchen for a week, and have her make the above Coffee Cake non-stop until our freezers were filled with them. 

She would then be allowed to leave and enjoy the rest of her holiday.

You know, Patrice, I have reached here, and I now have NO idea what question you asked. Let me scroll back.

Oh yes - people staying. I'd seriously forgotten in my meanderings through Laurie's visits.

I ought to stop rambling on, but I can't not mention the mad lovely Englishers we had over last New Year.

3. Where is your laundry room, or the area that you keep your washer and dryer?

I have my washer and dryer in the Utility Room. If I were ever to build another house, I would have a separate room for my laundry. I wouldn't have it at the back door either - it'd be closer to where folks dispose of, and re-use their clothing.

4. How are you with tools? Power tools?

Excuse me? (In my best John MacEnroe voice: You can not be serious!) 

You think I married a Builder and still have to use tools? 

I tell you, if you marry a Builder, you do not touch his precious power tools. That would be more than my life is worth. It would almost be as bad as me going off on his new bike.

5. Tell me something that will make me smile. Please.

Oh. Erm. I'm not very good at that kind of thing. I'm a rubbish joke-teller, but I do have one favourite joke so I'll let y'all in on it.

(My kids - indeed nobody else I know - finds it in the least bit funny, but I can never hear it without going into fits of laughter. I'm actually laughing right now as I write.)

Okay. What's white and can't climb trees?

No? Scroll down for the answer.

Answer: A fridge! 

Are you laughing? Cause I am! And there's more:

What's white and blue and can't climb trees?

Scroll down.

Answer: A fridge wearing a denim jacket!

Please tell me y'all found them funny. Please!


Such Beauty: Unseen by Many

When I was on the machair the other day with Jackson, I was spellbound by some of the beauty surrounding me. 

The sky was a gorgeous shade of powder blue, with little wisps of cloud.

The sea was so calm, and tiny little waves broke onto the sand making a sound that was simply musical.

The most simple of musical sounds, maybe. But music all the same.

The sand, for the most part, only had the evidence of last night's tide.

The sand dunes and their shadows. 

Art, by the Master Creator.

There's my shadow, with Jackson to the left of me :)

Peace. Total peace.

And beauty.

And walking along, surrounded by all this beauty, I was struck by Jackson's total lack of appreciation. He sniffed and ran and chased and sniffed and ran and chased some more. But not once did he stop and enjoy the beauty surrounding him.

Not once did he stop and wonder at the beauty of the creation staring him in the face. And not once did his heart bulge with joy and praise and thanksgiving to our all wise, all powerful Creator.

Of course he didn't: he's a dog.

But how many of us go through our lives running and chasing, and never stopping to wonder at the world in which we live? How often do we pass a garden of flowers and never stop to be amazed and enriched by the beauty of the colours, and the wonder of the perfection of each little petal and leaf?

How often do we see the sun rise and set and not wonder in awe at the precision of the earth's rotations, and the changing timings and seasons?

I felt sorry for Jackson yesterday - for the narrowness of his world. I felt sorry for him because he had no appreciation of God's wonderful world.

But maybe I ought to feel more sorry for the men and women who are surrounded by aspects of God's creation, and go through their lives never worshipping the One who made it all, and who sustains it all.

Maybe it's time for us all to stop, to take time and to praise. We live in such an amazing world, created by an infinitely amazing God. Let's not go through life in the proverbial running and chasing mode.

"Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: Both young men, and maidens; old men and children: Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is excellent: His glory is above the earth and the heavens."
Psalm 148: 11-13


My Early (ish) Morning Power Walk

If you haven't already left a comment on the Giveaway post, link to it here, and leave your comment.

~      ~      ~   

I went for an early morning stroll yesterday.

Er... what do y'all mean, 'It wasn't very early'? Just because the sun is a wee bit high, and just because the sky is blue, it doesn't mean it wasn't early. Remember, we are far north, and this is summer.

So, I'll begin again:

Early yesterday morning, I went for a power walk. Well, a brisk walk.

It was kind of brisk. Okay, so I'd planned for it to be brisk.

I went for a stroll. I sauntered.


I took my camera and Jackson with me, cause that's what bloggers do. Er ... the camera part - not Jackson.

Right, I'm going to zip it, and show you photos.

Even though I am walking very briskly, he runs ahead of me.

Waaaay ahead of me, 

and then comes back to say Hi, and to check I haven't run out of steam yet.

When he reaches the end of the road, he waits for me to open the gate onto the machair.

Once he's through the gate, I can't see him for dust.

Rabbits! He chases. They make a fool of him.

Again, and again.

And again!

But we love you all the same, Jackson.

It is sheer joy for him to be free on the machair.

And then it's off home ...

... at a more leisurely pace.


A Thunderous Giveaway ...

A Giveaway!

I have here two copies of The Thunder, a novel on John Knox, by Douglas Bond.

Not only do I have copies, of the book, but I have signed copies. And, just because I reckon y'all ought to read at least one of Douglas Bond's books, I am giving both of them away: one here on the blog, and one on the Homeschool on the Croft Facebook page

See .... told you it was signed!

This is what another wonderful author of historical fiction had to say about this book:

“In his latest novel, The Thunder, Douglas Bond deftly escorts us into the sixteenth-century world of John Knox through the eyes of a young student—an ideal means of letting the reader observe and experience the life of Knox firsthand. Bond’s careful use of language suited to the time period allows for a seamless flow from narrative to the actual text of Knox’s powerful sermons, while rich, descriptive passages paint a vivid picture of Scotland and England during the Reformation. The spiritual aspect of the story is richer still, inviting the reader to wrestle with the Gospel truths Knox so fearlessly preached. A fine work, honoring the memory and message of the Thundering Scot.”

Liz Curtis Higgs, best-selling author of the Lowlands of Scotland series

Now, I have just received the books, and haven't even read my own copy, so I cannot yet give my own review. 

Douglas Bond himself is:

author of twenty books, husband of Cheryl, father of six and grandfather of one (an counting - God willing). He is a ruling elder in the PCA, teaches at Covenant High School, speaks at conferences, and leads church history tours in Europe.

How I'd love to join one of those tour groups - they are wonderfully educational and fascinating. Maybe one day ....

So, back to The Thunder and the Giveaway.

All you need to do is comment here, and I shall pick a name at random in a week's time. So midnight (BST) on Thursday 23rd August will be the close of the Giveaway. Feel free to head over to the FB page and comment there too - double your probabilities :)

If you are not already following the blog, feel free to do so now. However, you do not need to in order to comment, and enter the Giveaway. Same applies on Facebook...

(If it happened that the same person was chosen from the blog and the FB page, I will choose an alternative number from the FB page comments. Winners will be chosen by Random.org.)

I will post (ship!) anywhere, so don't worry about where you're from. All the best! And feel free to tell any of your friends about the giveaway!

Oh, one more thing: no anonymous comments please - how will I know who you are?!!


Our Weekly Porch Chat

Here are Patrice's questions for this week, for our Chat on the Porch.

1. What was your biggest fear as a child?

You know, Patrice, I can't think that I had any fears as a child. From the age of twelve, I began to fear - very much - dying, because I knew I wasn't saved. That terrified me. But as a child, I think I had no fears of anything.

I must have had a really secure childhood :)

2. Who taught you to cook?

Well, I'm not sure I've learnt a lot about cooking. I think I've just begun to learn - from books, from the internet and from TV cookery programmes. When I was younger, I used to bake in my mum's kitchen, but until I married, I did very little cooking.

I think my own kids will be much better prepared for the kitchen than I was!

3. Do you have a lot of books in your home?

Oh, Patrice! Yes, I certainly do!

These are just some of them, but there are books everywhere in this house! The bookshelves here never look particularly tidy, but that's probably because they really are working bookshelves, and you can see books sitting on both arms of the sofas in the photo. 

Not living in a family of tidy people means I find books everywhere: beside every bed; on every sofa and chair; in every bag; on every table ...  

4. Do you like carrot cake? What's your favourite frosting?

I have never made carrot cake, but I certainly do have a favourite. If you go to this post, you will see the carrot cake my friend, Dawn, makes. It actually is the most delicious cake of any description I have ever eaten.

I choose my friends well.

5. What did the last funny t-shirt you read say?

Living in Ness doesn't give me the opportunity to see too many t-shirts - they're normally covered up by a jumper (sweater to you guys across the Pond) ... ! And I can't think of a funny slogan off the top of my head.

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