Total Pageviews

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

In the Bleak Mid Winter

Ask me my favourite Christmas carol, and I will probably answer with, 'In the Bleak mid Winter.'
The words are very poignant, and the best is last, ''what I can give him: give my heart'' Pretty much sums up the Christian gospel, and why Jesus came to earth.
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, Whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, Whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

I love the references to the cold winter. I see that as having double meaning, as our hearts, and lives before the Holy Spirit has touched them. We were hard hearted sinners, who needed to be warmed to Christ.
The second verse then talks about the power of God. We can't contain God, and he humbled himself in birth, but even to death on a cross!
The third verse pertaining to worship. What we were made for:to glorify God, and worship Him.
Finally in the last verse, as mentioned before, we give our hearts. We cannot be christians, until we have given our heart to Christ, and repented of our sin. It is God's gift to us. Often, if we are given a gift, it is expected to reciprocate. The fantastic thing about the gospel, is that we can ONLY give our hearts our all, but that in joy. We don't have to do anything, it is all of grace, and free.
Merry Christmas! Have you received God's free gift?

Friday, 6 December 2013

Power Cuts!

Yesterday's bad weather took our power out at 6:p.m. Just as I was going to prepare dinner! Of course, we have all electric here, and oil central heating, which of course doesn't work without the electric pump. Just as well my mum had rung just before, or the dinner would have been half way through cooking!
(I was pleased that I had bought the 6 pack of parrafin lanterns off ebay, the previous week. Ironically, we had bought a couple extra to lend out in emergencies.)
It was handy that we always had an emergency plan for when such things happen, and I am partly writing this to encourage others to do the same.
Hubby took a while to set up the gas in the caravan, and then I was able to cook the dinner. Having the paraffin lanterns meant we had light in the house, too. We also had a camping gas stove, which was excellent for heating up hot water for tea, and coffee, and washing up.
For heating, we have a log burning stove, and failing that a paraffin heater which is 6KW, and has a built in safety feature, so if it is knocked it cuts out. You can fuel them with home heating oil, as it is exactly the same as paraffin.
One of the reasons we have always been prepared, is our experience of the winter of 1994 in rural west wales. We were 3 days without power, and all the candles, lamps etc in the shops had sold out. We did have a camping stove, and we used it to heat up water for the neighbour's baby. They couldn't make up the formula. Also, we were off for days in rural Scotland.
So, would you have the bare essentials in a power cut? They are set to become common place, as the UK struggles with demand, and not enough power stations.
Here is my list of essentail items:
1) Candles with holders, paraffin lanterns, paraffin, torches, and extra batteries for lighting. Solar torches are fab. I bought one off ebay cheaply, a while back. Wind up troches are great, too.
2) Something to cook on. Obviously, if you have a stove, or gas cooker anyway, then this will still work, unless the gas is cut off! So, it still is an idea to have something to hand in emergency. A gas ring is great, and these can be bought from argos, are compact, and the gas bottles are tiny, making them easy to store.
3) Something to keep you warm- I think it is bad idea to build houses without chimneys, as an open fire or log burner is a good way to keep warm during a power outage. A small paraffin, or gas heater is ideal otherwise.
4) If you can afford it, a small generator will stop your freezers defrosting, if the power cut is to last beyond 24 hours. These run off either diesel, or petrol, and you can get quieter ones now, and quite small ones, for use with caravans.
As with everything, take care to keep all lighting out of the reach of small children, and out of the way of fire hazards. If you do not have a carbon monoxide detector, or smoke alarm, then get one fitted now.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Fun and Games

Just recently, we have been having regular games nights, where we play board games. For the past few months it has been trivial pursuit. I had forgotten about how much fun I had with this as a child. Sadly, because I was like an only child (brother 12 years older) I didn't get a lot of opportunities to play. I played with my mum, and occasionally with friends. One of the great things about a large family, as there are six of us playing. The children learn from it, and compete with each-other, interact with each other. Sadly, in this IT generation families are not interacting much anymore. As a result, you have whole families split up doing different things. I wonder whether we have gone backwards, and not forwards. Years ago families always entertained themselves with singing, games, reading aloud, or just talking, and sharing!
We are doing a scrabble tournament over December, and we will all compete with each other to win prizes. Again, they are learning, and the 11 year old just recently beat the 16 year old. They are learning healthy competition, and how to be a good sport, while having fun along the way.
If you haven't already, let me encourage you to set aside a couple of hours and try it out. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Saving Money, and Shopping Around

Just when I thought I couldn't make any more savings, I started shopping at Aldis.............
I have to say, I hadn't been for about 8 years. I must say, I have been impressed, and will pick out a few of the things, which I believe offer real value, and savings.
As a rule, I observed that milk, and bread, were about the same as Tesco, and Morrison, pricewise. Quality was better than Tesco.
1) Grapes, pears, and mixed peppers-
These offered massive savings, and the grapes were only £1.50, according to Mysupermarket were half the price of Sainsbury, and beat Asda hands down.
2) Garlic bread-
At just 30p each, big value for a long baguette.
3) Free range chicken £5 for 1.5 kilos-
that is £3-£4 cheaper than elsewhere. A real saver, if like us you have to cook 2 at a time.
4) Cereals-
Huge range of granolas, cornflakes,micro oats with fruit, and shreddies. All at good quality, and around £1 each. Depending on where you buy, this is a saving of 50p-£1 per box.
5) Spices-
50p each, that is half the price of tesco, or sainsbury.
6) Chocolate-
We tested it, and as good as the leading brand. Just 69p for aero style, and others £1. They even do dark chocolate.
7) Red Meat-
just £2.29 for a pound of frozen aberdeen angus mince. £2.99 for 400g casserole steak. Very good value packs.
I will lastly mention the hot chocolate, at £1.09 for 400g. Twice the price of Asda smart price, and Tesco value.....but, we think it usurps cadburys in taste. Could it be the coconut?!
Anyway, I am sure there are lots of other savings. I have tried to list the most useful. We tried the battenburg, and the walnut cake after dinner, and thoroughly enjoyed. One of the girls was sad, cos she didn't get to have the, 'girly cake' I had offered 6 of both. Will have to buy more......

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Drying Washing

Some smart Alec will say, it is as easy as just putting in a drier. However, I loathe driers, and the electric bills they run up. I prefer to dry clothes naturally. Now if you don't have a drier, and you happen to have a dozen to wash for, it is a good idea to buy a washing machine with an 'A' rated spin. Believe me, it really does make a massive difference, as my towels come out almost dry.

There are a few things I have also learned along the way, to make my drying a bit quicker, and easier. I will list them, as follows:

1) If you are going to be hanging washing out in the morning, always do it the night before. It is a good idea to check the forecast, as if there is going to be wind, stuff will dry quicker, obviously. No point in stacking up 6 loads if there is rain forecast for the next day.
2) Always bring it in an hour before it gets dark. This stops the dew coming down, and making your washing as wet as it was in the morning! In summer, it doesn't apply so much.
3) If it is summer, and there is no rain forecast in the night, consider putting it out in the evening, and leaving it all night.
4) To save time,( and esp in the winter, or showery days) use those hanging sock baskets, with pegs attached. You can get them in the pound store, but i found for a couple pound more, the ones in Wilko are much more durable, and my wilko one has outlasted all the others. You can hang your smaller items on these, and then attach them to an airer in the house, when you bring them in. It makes it easier to just grab them in a rain shower, too.
5) An airer is an imperative. I don't have space for one of those which you hang from the ceiling. I just keep one large one in the hall. A heated airer is a good option, if you are struggling to get stuff dry, though running costs on the electric will apply.
6) We like fleece a lot in the winter, and one major plus, is they dry in no time at all! Forget the big thick jumpers, which take an age to dry, fleece is lightweight, and almost dry from the machine. The girls have fleece onesies, too.

Please feel free to add your tips, and what you do in the comments.

Friday, 25 October 2013


I have just finished the book by Beverly Lewis, called ''The Shunning''.
It was a quick read, some predictable parts, and rather left on the edge, making me want to read the next in the trilogy.
However, it was thought provoking, in that it was about Amish life, and a girl who was unknowingly adopted into that. I hadn't realised until about a year ago how ensconced the Amish are in their man made rules system. I find it horrifying that they would shun friends, and family just because they do not follow the rules of the Amish order.
It made me think of our tendencies to legalism. Somehow, we can feel comforted by a rule system, and an order. Are we adding on our own rules though, or are we getting our standards from the Bible? We will all have disagreements about certain aspects of our life. Modesty, for example can be a shady area. What is clear, as that we are to attend church in a manner akin to decency, and order. We obviously don't walk around in public wearing certain clothes either. There are no clear cut modesty rules in the bible, so that is where common sense, and personal conviction comes into it. If our church starts dictating what we MUST wear, then it is starting to add rules.
One of the main things which surprised me was the idea of using a guitar, or even humming a tune not in the Amish hymn book was enough to get yourself into discipline, which in itself could lead to excomminication meaning a complete shunning from the community. We should be accountable to God only. If there is serious sin, like adultery, fornication that is a matter to be addressed by the pastor. However, we will all disagree with different aspects of music, and that is a minor matter, unless of course listening to demonic music which is openly sinful. I am not sure how many rules the Amish have, as there are different orders. I have heard of hundreds of rules, though, and some of them seem ridiculous.
It made me appreciate the freedom we have in Christ. We are not saved by attending church, keeping lots of rules, and even by the 10 commandments. In fact, only God's grace can save us. It is our faith in Jesus who was crucified for our sin, and who rose again, and was an atonement for our sin, that saves us. Repentance, being truly for our sin, and accepting that Jesus has already done the work on the cross, redeemed us. NOT BY WORKS lest man should boast. Amazing, as if I thought I had to save myself by my works, I should become very discouraged. That is what is amazing about grace.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Protecting our Children

Hmm, sometimes we can assume that home educating will protect our children from some of the worse aspects of life. I read an article yesterday, which in someways contradicts this. I already knew that we can't just home educate, and think that is it. We need to be aware of what is going on, and how we really are in the hour of temptation.
One thing we didn't have when I was a child, was the internet. Now you can click on just about anything. Online shops, articles, and...pornography. In fact pornographic sites account for most of what is on the internet. If you think your children wouldn't click on anything like that, then think again. All it takes is for one misclick, or a link sent by someone else. Filters are really important, and parental controls are an imperative. Let's not be complacent though, as they may not be enough to protect. We need to be aware of what our children are clicking on. Another reason why I hate the advance of i phones for kids. Who knows what they are clicking on?
The internet can be a curse or a blessing, like a lot of things. It is something that must be used wisely.
Another thing on the rise is witchcraft. It seems that stuff like Ouija boards are being mass marketed to kids. Tarot cards, and wiccan stuff. This stuff isn't harmless, it is highly dangerous, as it opens the mind up to demons, and demonic possession. I was shocked to find books lauding witchcraft, highly accessible in libraries, even school libraries for primary. The danger is, when our children read books which distort the reality, and portray something evil as harmless.
Television is waning somewhat, as the internet becomes more popular. However, I am shocked at the content of the stuff on children's TV. Peppa pig for example, belittling men, and encouraging feminism. Already, it is trying to sell our children a Godless worldview. Cartoons with witchcraft in, and encouraging disobedience to parents.
Have you noticed how a lot of the films today have no moral absolutes? They portray heroes, as fornicating, committing adultery, and using foul language. Is this the sort of standard we as Christians want to set?
Soap operas, with their constant dramas, arguments, promotions of unnatural behaviour, idolatory, fornication etc. A gossip's paradise. Something we are commanded not to do.
I don't believe it is being legalistic to reject these things. We need to measure everything against the Bible. Is it edifying, pure, and of good report? Will it encourage sin? If we answer no to the first question, and yes to the second question, then clearly by God's standards it is wrong.
I wonder whether that is why the Christian church is so weak now. Everyone is compromising. No one wants to offend, and we have a lukewarm faith, accepting all things lest we of all things be called a bigot! The fact is we will be persecuted, and we will be hated for doing that which is right. It isn't an easy path, but it is the right, and Biblical one.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Fitness Update

Phew! Has it really been 3 months since I last posted? We have been so busy with friends, and summer activites.
I did say I was going to update on the eating plan. I was going to do the trim healthy mama, but it really did not suit me, or my family. So, instead I decided to half my lunch carbs, and dinner carbs. Basically smaller portions, and eating slightly more protein.
I was doing 3+ workouts a week, but there hasn't been time of late, and sometimes I only manage 1. I think it is that halting my progress. I had lost a stone, and then some more after coming back off holiday in June. Since then, I have stayed the same on the scales. At least I haven't gained it all back!
The key is eating smaller portions, but more of veg, and a little more on protein at lunch. Regular exercise, daily if possible. I am not cutting out small treats, just trying to be sensible about it.
I will update again, when I have lost more. That hopefully won't be too long!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Days Out

Days out with twelve of us could prove expensive. However, it doesn't have to be expensive. There is so much stuff out there that is free, and close to it. I am going to list a few ideas, including some stuff we do.
1) National trust membership- If you are a home educator, you can get this for just £36 a year. (though you cannot visit at weekends, and school holidays. Even if you are not a home educator, a family membership offers real value for money. Look out for a third off offers, which often include a free gift.
Belton House NT Last year:

2) Sometimes there are open days, when historical attractions are opened for free. These are listed on council websites.
3) Country parks- Often just a small parking charge.
4) Woodlands- Look on the woodlands trust website, to find places nearby. They can also offer activities such as den building.

5) Clubcard vouchers- If you are looking at a particular attraction, clubcard deals are very good value. Sometimes getting as much as 4x value for points. Otherwise look out for internet offers. We got into a safari park once, and had half of the children free, due to a similar offer that a friend told us about.
6) The beaches- Though some do charge quite a lot to park, there are often free places available, too.

I am sure there are many other ideas, and some I have forgotten. Please leave any extra suggestions in comments, and I hope in this time of recession it can be of some help.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Are You the Perfect Homeschooling Mum?

Just recently, a copy of Todd Wilson's, 'Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe' landed in my mail box. (thanks, Susan, so timely!)
You know, I have been homeschooling now for years, at least 15 years now. You would think that by now, I would be an expert? Errrr, well, no. In fact, I often have others thinking, AND SAYING THAT I must be wonderwoman, or Supermum. Hey, I have to say, there is no way I would fit the outfit! But, hey seriously I am just as normal as anyone, if you can call homeschoolers normal.
I have to say, the book had me smiling in many places. (If you haven't read it, I would definitely encourage you to read it.) I remember one time, we met a family with far more than us at the time, they were able to all stand together, and recite a large portion of Genesis. I was thinking to myself at the time, that mine would be lucky to manage a verse!! Also, my husband made a remark about how well turned out they were, and he confessed that our children don't look half that tidy. Of course, I was mortified!
Another time, I overheard another mum say to her husband quietly, ''How come her baby is so content, ours are never like that?!'' Of course, I almost choked on hearing that. Yes, Hosanna was a cutie for being content, but boy my sister in law could tell you about the time she nearly screamed her ears off, and that was from another room. All children are different, and have different qualities. So, there was me admiring others' fantastic super good children, and yet others were admiring mine! Just goes to show, are we reading the full picture? Todd Wilson shows how we aren't, we are just picking up external cues.
I remember the time another mum mentioned studying Latin. *Gulp* I thought it might be a good idea to include some extra stuff too, but you can so easily lose sight of the basics, and end up tying yourself up. Some are good at arty stuff. I am not, but love History, Music,Maths, and racquet sports. Guess what they do a lot of?!
So, I guess we need to concentrate on our strengths, and not tie ourselves up in knots trying to do stuff out of our depth. I will give an example ;Izzy, our 16 year old seems to be very gifted in areas of engineering, and electronics. He is a complete geek, and can often be found with a complicated Engineering book, sprawled across his bed. Even on Saturdays! Now, none of us have a flair for it, so where did he get it? Well, I am a believer in letting them pursue their interests, and homeschooling makes it so much easier, so that is what he did. He is coming in pretty useful too, fixing hoovers, computers, amongst many. Funny thing is, I was a bit lax on science, but that was no bother to him, he just read them all anyway. So, definitely don't worry thinking you are inadequate, and ignore the naysayers that are busy telling you their son has 20 GCSE' s all A* and how will yours possibly get a job.
Another thing I found recently, was the Trim Healthy Mama diet. I read the book, and wanted to lose weight. The book implied, that if I didn't follow all their rules, and cut out the carbs I wouldn't lose weight. For two weeks, I was becoming obsessive over food, it was as if someone had tied a millstone over my neck. I can tell you I ditched it, and now feel free, and guess what? Yep. I lost weight regardless. I am not saying it won't work for others, but it definitely wasn't for me at the time.
The modesty thing is another issue. So, so easy to end up dressing to please others. Honestly, our focus is on God, not man made rules! If someone frowns on me, cos they can see my ankle, or knee, so be it.
Anyway, I think the book definitely encourages a reality check. Next time we think that homeschooling family is perfect...... think again, and think of what image we convey to others. I hope I don't convey the image I am perfect. I have my interests and passions, healthy living, and working out. I want my tips to encourage, not to burden. Like so much in life we have to take it, or leave it if it is not a scriptural mandate.
I was reading Helen Shapiro's testimony, and she was shocked at how many new laws were being added to the Jewish laws, all man made, and yet they often had no knowledge of the true scriptures, the real, and only laws. Jesus has freed us from this, if we are believers. Yes, we still keep the commandments, but we don't add to them., so easy to do, especially in homeschool circles. Can I see you nodding your heads?

Saturday, 8 June 2013

The Yorkshire Coast- Part 2

At the holiday house....

Flamborough Lighthouse.
This is the one they built 200 years ago to replace the old one, which I believe was one of the oldest left. This new one was built with no scaffolding!! You can imagine smugglers in these areas, the rocks really are treacherous.

Angela on Flamborough Head


Going down into the cove below. 174 steps down, and then 174 up again from Flamborough bay!

Swaledale sheep on the North yorkshire Moors. They are very hardy sheep, so when the winters come in thick, and fast, they are able to manage.

Whose idea was it to take a detour?! We saw a sign saying, 'Ford frequently impassable' Hmm, I thought nothing of it until we reached the bottom in our 15 seater minibus....the point of no return........Wah!!!

There were two men leaning on the post on the other side, viewing our spectacular, in true Yorkshire style. One word, don't attempt this one, unless you have over a foot of ground clearance!!!
The is slow paced here..

A tiny bit of drizzle came down for a while, but soon cleared. Runswick Bay....if anyone has read Christie's old organ, and the follow on from that, it was set around this area. There were a lot of gospel outreaches to fishermen.

The fossil I found here


The first Roman signal station was found on Filey Brigg, which juts out from Filey.Ironically named Carr Naze, Carr being our surname. You can see from the end, that the Romans would of had a bird's eye view of all around.

A lovely hot day on the beach at Thornwick Bay.

The Yorkshire Coast Part one

I have my favourite coastal areas in the UK, but I have to say this is a new one on the list. Interesting bays, precarious cliff walks, breathtaking views, and wildlife. All this, and more can be found at the Yorkshire coast.

The Humber Bridge, which seperates Yorkshire, and Lincolnshire

Bempton Cliffs
These cliffs are famous for puffins, and other seabirds.

Robin Hood's Bay

Walking in the footpaths above the bay. We found old railway tunnels. If anyone has read Malcolm Saville's book, Mystery Mine, it is set around this area, and I can see where he got his inspiration from.

Sandsend beach

Whitby, a charming place when the sun shines. We ate fish and chips next to the harbour. Yum! This is the gorgeous approach, as you walk into the town via the old Abbey.

More from around the abbey...

To be concluded!