It's Reformation Day ... Not a lot of People Know That ;)

Today is Reformation Day - a day worth remembering, methinks.

I'm re-posting from a couple of years ago, because I loved looking back at the photos of the kids and their wonderful costumes.

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When our homeschooling families came together to celebrate Reformation Day, our kids came prepared for the plays in which they they were performing.

Here is our cast of characters.

Here is a poor German parishioner buying an indulgence from ...

er... hang on! Is this who I think it is? Selling indulgences??

A word with you later, young man, please.

Here were some of the nuns that were able to escape from the convent. 

(This was them trying to look very serious. Frightened even, 
because the consequences would have been serious indeed had they been caught. So... do they look worried to you guys?)

Many nuns who, when they heard the Gospel, became aware that the vows they had taken were not binding in God's eyes. Martin Luther helped some escape, with the aid of a fish merchant who came with his delivery of fish one night to the convent.

(Isn't the cart fabulous?! Well done, Mary and your troops, for the wonderful props)

Leaving the convent, among the stinking barrels were twelve nuns. One of the twelve was Katharina von Bora, who was later to become Luther's wife.

The third and final time Luther was convicted of the total sufficiency of Christ's finished work came when he was in Rome, climbing the steps of the Scala Sancta. (Read about them here.) As Luther climbed the steps on his knees, the words...

...screamed out to him.

This portion of Scripture, "The just shall live by faith", spoke to Martin Luther on three separate occasions. Although he had been saved, his grave clothes of superstition, of tradition and of works were bound tightly to him. (see yesterday's post) Three times, the Lord spoke to him through this truth, until finally, here on the steps of the Scala Sancta, Luther was able to shout with joy and with all conviction, 



Glad to be Chatting with Patrice Again ...

Poor Patrice wasn't feeling toddy last week, but this week I am glad to report that we're back on her porch. I'm not sure how long we'll be meeting on her porch now that the weather is cooler. Patrice insists the cooler weather is good.

Hmmm ... I beg to differ. Give me warmth!

And so to our chat:

1. Do you have any special plans for this week?

Not really, Patrice. Our clocks have changed, our weather is very Autumnal, and so I'm looking forward to some quiet evenings in by the fire.

Have you noticed how few and far between evenings together become as the kids get older? It hardly ever happens any more.

On a Tuesday evening, DR works as a lifeguard. On a Wednesday, we have our midweek meeting at church. On a Thursday, DR has his Fire Service training night. On many Friday nights, our older kids meet their friends for football and a meal, and soon over the winter, they're going to have a fabulous opportunity to learn from lectures on The Tabernacle on Friday nights.

This series of lectures is, apparently, for the youth.

I think they ought to have the dividing line in terms of height rather than age, because I would love to be privy to these amazing discussions on one of my favourite topics.

And so, time together is at a premium: Saturday and Sunday nights are my 'treat'. :)

2. What's the most relaxing thing you do?

Definitely sitting with a book, Patrice. 

My dream 'me time' consists of me, a book, a cup of tea, and some cake. Now that I am not at the stage of life with very young children, I'm able to find more time to read, and I am enjoying the pleasure more and more. Maybe I'll do a post some day on some of my recent reads.

The Builder and I were blessed with a weekend in Inverness over the summer. This is where we spent a lot of our time: in a wonderfully bright, warm, comfortable room. The Builder left a few times to go and visit some shops in town - cycling shops and tool shops - yes, his shops! But I didn't leave here unless I absolutely had to. It was bliss.

3. Have you ever worn a wig? (play, dress-up, or for real)

Erm .... Nope :)

4. Do you have an office, or special place to use your computer?

We had an office in the house for a number of years. We used it for 'school' and that's where our computer was. Bit by bit, it became more redundant as the kids did more and more of their education in the kitchen or in the Family Room. Now that only the Wee Guy is doing 'official' education at home, it's all done in the kitchen or Family Room; and now that the computer has been replaced with laptops, the Office is no longer in existence. 

That room now holds a treadmill, a bike trainer, and a weights machine.

It's not a room I frequent much.

Let's move on ...

5. What are your favourite kind of socks?

That is easy, Patrice! My favourite kind of socks are the ones that come out of the laundry with their 'other half'. What is it with socks?? How is it that, by the end of each week, I have a basket full of single socks? So any sock that is willing to stay with his partner, through thick and thin, through spinning and tumbling ... he will be my favourite sock for life.

I think we ought to begin a campaign for socks to stick together through thick and thin. 

They ought to be more faithful to each other, and not just remain paired-up when they're in the comfort of bedroom drawers. They ought to be faithful in the heat of the tumbling trial, or when they're being flooded in the washing machine.

Good Socks Stay Faithful!


On Patrice's Porch Again

Is it still warm enough to sit on your porch, Patrice. I can tell you now that you wouldn't be sitting on our porch - even if we had one - this evening. We'd be well and truly inside, preferably sitting in front of the peat fire.

Once we were warmed up and had our cuppa and cake beside us, we'd begin our blether ...

1. Are you doing any crafts or DIY projects now?

No crafts, Patrice. 

That reminds me of, "No lace, Mrs Bennet, no lace!"

As for DIY, yes, we're doing some of that. We've repainted our hall, our kitchen/diner, and our main bathroom. We've also painted - not re-painted, take note - our en-suite, and the front porch.

(Our porch is nothing like your porch, sadly. Our porches are simply little areas between the outer door and the inner-outer door. A porch, here in the UK, is enclosed and doesn't have the wonderful feel that Virginian porches have.)

Last week, I sorted through some photos I want to frame, and so over the next couple of weeks (says she, optimistically), we'll hopefully have our rooms looking like home again.

2. If I could snap my fingers, I'd make  ________________  for dinner.

You know what, Patrice ... better than have dinner made for me - even the best of dinners - if I could snap my fingers, I'd have the decisions about dinner made for me.

I'm happy (mostly) to make dinner every night, but why is it that my brain shuts down when needing to decide what to make for dinner?

Is this a common condition amongst other mums? Is it normal? Should I seek treatment?

Any advice gratefully received.

3. What author would you like to have lunch with? (It doesn't have to be someone alive now.)

I'd love to have lunch with the author of the Book of Hebrews! Oh, the amazing riches in that book! The writer, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit had such a wonderful, intimate knowledge of the Old Testament and its true meaning, and it's one of my favourite books of the Bible. I would love to spend time with him, so he could open up the riches of the Old Testament to me, and show me more and more of Christ between the pages of Genesis 1 and Malachi 3. 

I know these pages are full of Christ. I've been blessed to be under the ministry of a man who preached Christ from so many of these Old Testament chapters; and recently, I've been enjoying a book (by that pastor's son-in-law, funnily enough) called Jesus on Every Page - a book dedicated to showing us how full the Old Testament is of our Saviour.

Other than that, I think I'd choose someone who wrote a fascinating biography. These biographers become so well acquainted with their subjects, and the intimate knowledge they have of the person of whom they were writing would surely guarantee amazingly interesting conversation. Who wouldn't wish to see into the mind of world leaders from the past or present? Or of lowlier men or women who fought for some great cause? Or of those who were persecuted for what they believed? 

In fact, the more you read - of any genre - the more you begin to realize the level of knowledge authors have of their subject. I love historical books - whether factual history, or historical fiction, and the skill with which many writers take you into the era in which their work is set is simply marvelous. 

Read Conn Iggulen's series on Genghis Khan, and you'll see a wonderful example of this. Now that I'm on the third book in his series, I am bowled over both by his incredible story-telling gift, and also by the detailed knowledge he has of the sights, smells and sounds of tribal life during Genghis Khan's empire.

I feel like I'm there! But I'm glad I'm not ...

4. I wanted to tell all of you folks at chats  ___________________  .

Erm ... simply that I love meeting up each week for our blether.

5. ____________________  has been on my mind a lot lately.

Beautiful little girls in India, and in other parts of Asia, have been on my mind a lot lately. So many thousands of girls are aborted, or abandoned after they're born because they are seen as a liability rather than as a gift.

My heart is sore.

Right now, I wish more than anything, that I was able to take some of them into our home and make them our own.

They are so precious, and it breaks my heart that they are unwanted simply because they are girls. There is plenty room in our home for some of these beautiful girls. And there is more than enough room in our hearts for them.

And so, yes, Patrice, they are on my mind. They are in my heart. And they are in my prayers. 

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Tonight, I was able to sit in the Family Room and savour this sight ...

There are many more beautiful photos online of what we were able to enjoy tonight in Lewis, but this photo is taken from my family room. It's not altered in any way, and there's no fancy camera work ... I just ain't clever enough for that. The shutter simply opened for ten seconds, and that was that.

Let's hope this is the start of things to come this winter.

Once again, thank you for inviting us onto your porch. Have a great week!


Pavlova Recipe

I was asked to post the recipe for the pavlova in yesterday's blog post.

Yes, this one. And so here's a re-post of a previous blog, giving my pavlova recipe. Like everything I make, it's dead simple...

The other night, we had a bit of surprise get-together in my sister's house for my brother's wife's 40th.

Get it?

Anyhoo, I was making some mini pavlovas for our surprise get-together, and even though I didn't have my camera and the camera I was using didn't have proper working batteries, I still thought I'd give you the pleasure of my poorly taken photos of the mini meringues, and if this isn't a cracker of a run-on sentence, I don't know what is.

Here are my ingredients: eggs, caster sugar, cornflour, vinegar and vanilla essence.

When the egg whites are stiff, I add the cornflour-vinegar-vanilla mix.

After this the caster sugar is added, one spoonful at a time, whilst whisking continually.

Dollop the mix onto baking paper, 

and use the back of the spoon to make a well in the centre.

They are then ready to pop into the oven.

It's best to make pavlova in the evening, and when they are ready in the oven, turn off the oven, but leave the oven door closed. 

Leave the pavlovas in overnight, but if you make them on a Saturday night to have for your Sunday dinner, please make sure that no one puts the oven on in the morning in preparation for the Sunday roast, before removing the pavlovas.

Why am I warning you of this? 

... Yep, you guessed it. Been there, done that.

For the filling, because I'm not a great fan of cream, I mix whipping/double cream with strawberry yoghurt (or whichever flavour you prefer). If you mix yoghurt and cream in the same amount, it whisks well.

(A mixture of raspberry and peach flavoured yoghurts with the cream is lovely.)


3 egg whites
7 oz caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 150 C.

Mix cornfour, essence and vinegar in a cup. Set aside.

Beat egg whites until firm and fluffy. Add cornflour, essence and vinegar mixture. Add sugar slowly - tablespoonful at a time. Continue beating until mixture is stiff and shiny.

Place in the oven. After initial 15 mins, turn oven down to 75C. Leave in oven for additional 45 mins, and then turn oven off, but leave door closed for as long as possible, preferably overnight.

These amounts were doubled in the batch I was making in the photos.

So, go make and let me know how it goes.


The Truth about my Kitchen

Some time back, I had reason to post a photo of my kitchen, and this is what my kitchen looked like in that photo.

This was the day of the Guga, if y'all remember.

A couple of folks actually commented on how lovely and tidy my kitchen was, and this made me, erm, slightly uncomfortable. 

I am not keen on giving anyone a wrong impression of who I really am, you see, and all this talk of my tidy kitchen made me feel I had to own up. Yes, I have to own up to having tidied the island specifically for the photo. All the stuff was actually hiding on the floor when I took the photo.

Well, that's not true, but my kitchen definitely does not look like this normally.

And just because I feel the need to 'fess up; and just because I feel the need to keep things real; and also just because I know my Mum doesn't read my blog and so it's safe to make this admission online, I'm going to show you what my island looked like this evening.

Y'all ready for this?

Here's the island. You can just about see the colour of the worktop.

I wasn't long home from my trip to town, and some of the shopping still had to be put away, but instead of getting that done before beginning other tasks, I decided (as is my wont) to plough into other jobs.

We have vegetable peelings. I decided I'd make soup tomorrow, and I'd steep the Broth mixture overnight, and to pass the time and seeing I had nothing else to do, I thought I'd peel the vegetables, ready for tomorrow's soup.

At the same time as the vegetable peeling, I was whipping cream. It's actually cream and yoghurt, because that's the filling I like in my Pavlovas. You see, I'd made individual Lemon Meringue Tarts yesterday and had loads of the meringue left over, so I made some individual pavlovas. They were sitting in the oven waiting to be eaten, and so I had to prepare the filling.

Oh, now we're back to the soup.

Into tomorrow's soup will go carrots, turnip, onions, leeks, cabbage and kale.

Beside the broth mixture are the washed strawberries. 

That's normal, right? Strawberries and broth mixture - they were made to go together.

If I take a photo from this angle, you'd almost be lulled into thinking there was nothing intruding on the pavlova, strawberry and whipped cream. Except there's a wee round, silver thingy edging into the bottom-right of the photo. That's one of these thingumijigs you put at the bottom of the radiator pipe, and it's perfectly normal to have one (or maybe two) of these on the island when you're filling pavlovas and making soup.

The pavlova doesn't look as appetizing from this angle, does it?

On this side of the island, we have another bundle of stuff. Part of the Wee Guy's arsenal. A photo of Sparkle, the Guide Dog we sponsor. (She's not as bonny as Jackson - we've told him that, so he doesn't get jealous. But she is way smarter than he is. I mean waaaaay smarter. We haven't told him that, lest he end up with a complex, needing therapy, and feeling the need to sue those who gave him the aforementioned complex.)

We also have: a juice jug; a tub of Stork; a jar of pie weights; my mobile; Conn Iggulden's Bones of the Hills, the third in his series on the life of Genghis Khan. The series is absorbing and fascinating. Iggulden is a fabulous writer, and here he writes on a fascinating figure from history.

And maybe if I keep talking about Iggulden and about Genghis Khan, you will forget all you saw from my kitchen ...


Questions and The Weather ... Always a Safe Topic.

Hi Patrice! 

Erm, are y'all still functioning over there? I heard the government shut down or something, so I'm wondering how We the People are surviving ...

What? You're managing?? But I thought you'd run out of money? 

What? ... you ran out of money ages ago?

So, were you just wanting more money to run out of ... ?

Hmmm ... methinks I'll move onto safer topics ;)

How are you enjoying your Fall weather? Over here, we are enjoying some stunningly beautiful days. In fact yesterday, when I had commented (for the umpteenth time) on the beauty of the day, I did say to DR, 'Imagine how much your friends in Grand Rapids miss out on because of how they take days like these for granted. I'll bet none of them are on their umpteenth 'Oh, isn't this beautiful!' by ten o'clock in the morning.'

For some reason, he couldn't see that having months of beautiful weather is a negative, simply because you may not go on and on (and on and on) about the beauty of the weather because it's so unusual.

Strange creatures, sons.

And so, onto your questions for today ...

1. When you pass the salt, do you automatically send the pepper with it?

No, I don't think so. I seldom pass the salt to the Builder - he really doesn't add salt to his food. But he adds lots and lots of black pepper. So the pepper mill heads his way at every meal.

2. How many fingers do you usually type with?

All of them, I think. Well, come to think of it, my left thumb doesn't do anything, because I always press the space bar with my right thumb. But apart from this one redundant digit, all the others get used. 

On the subject of typing, does anyone know why the Querty keyboard placed the letters where they are? There really seems little rhyme nor reason to it. Maybe that's why I'm so comfortable with it.

3. Do you keep interesting coins when you run across them?

I seldom come across interesting coins. DR used to collect coins and had some very old ones, with fascinating histories, I'm sure. The coins themselves mean nothing to me, but I do wish they could tell their stories. I'd love to know through whose hands they passed, and what they bought. How did the people earn this coin? And why was it spent on this particular item? Was it a gift? Or a necessity? Was it spent wisely? Or foolishly? Was it handed over gladly? Or with resentment?

Oh, these coins could have so many stories to tell. But, alas, they are silent. Frustratingly so.

4. Did you enjoy September, or did it fly by too quickly?

Has it gone? Dearie me, so it has. The bottom of my laptop screen tells me it's the 1st of the 10th. See, here in the UK, we do things properly: we place day first, then the month, then the year.

Today, then, is the first of October, 2013.

That is so much more logical that giving the month, then the day, then the year.... Pfft, we still have a few things to teach y'all ;)

5. If I could _______________, I'd get more done each day.

If I could get by on less sleep ....

If I could have raised a family that never needed feeding .... (Ha!)

If I was still running my home before the days of the internet ....

Aha! I may have hit the nail on the head with that last one!

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I'll post a photo of last night's sky, taken just after the sun had set. At this time, you still had a government....

Oops, sorry! 

(Hand duly slapped)

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