Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Upon Domesticity, or how God is changing my attitude to my home

Whether we share our home with other adults, a family, our parents or we live alone, our attitude to it says a lot about us. A large proportion of this blog is about my struggles in getting my home in order. I tend to refer to it collectively as housework, but really it is much more than that. I love to be hospitable, but that means as a minimum having some where for your guests to sit!!

Anyone who's stayed with me will tell you that often clearing a chair or floor for sit or lie on is the first thing I have to do. Not having to do this would mean I am freed up to take their coat, sit with them, and have a drink. Having a tidy, organised home, means I have more time for other things, more space for them-not material things. Whilst I can invite my most intimate friends over when my room is a tip, it shouldn't be that way. I would like to be able to be hospitable without having such distractions.

Like so many people, I loath housework. Why do we hate it? I think for a number of reasons, and not just laziness. I can think of two main reasons: the first and easiest is because I'm tired, and very frequently, lazy. The second reason is more complex, and I imagine is the same for many people, regardless of whether your house is immaculate or looks, as my mother fondly says, like a bomb's just hit it. A lot of it comes down to feelings of inadequacy. No matter how hard I try, I just can't be the ideal woman, with the perfect house.

But who says I have to be the perfect woman? Where did I even get this idea?

The world: magazines, television, other people's houses and lives. Did you notice that everyone else always seems to have the spotlessly clean home, the happy children, and dinner on the table at 6.

Products are sold on the premise that, if you purchase them, you will be as happy/successful/attractive etc as the person in the advert.

Mr Muscle will not make me love the jobs I hate. Nor will Country Living make me a domestic godness.

As a friend of Leila Lawler, over at Like Mother, Like Daughter, once pointed out, there are two things you need to sort first off: food on the table, and clean clothes in the cupboard.

{These taste great and are so quick and easy to make, I had them for brekka before work on Saturday}

That's it.

I know I certainly struggle with these two things. There is simply no point in me worrying about the colour of my room or fussing about how clean the floor is if I don't even have food in the house or a clean uniform for work tomorrow.

It has taken me 6 years to begin to get a handle on washing the laundry. Yes, really! I'm hoping it won't take me another 6 to get a handle on putting it away promptly. Still, better to master one thing at a time and enjoy a habit well begun, than lament the failure of half a dozen. Maybe laundry isn't an issue for you, perhaps it is meal planning or making time for people or to read God's Word. Or just having time to day dream or think without feeling guilty.

As I pursue my goal, here are some points I think I would do well to remember:

Do it for God
There is no point in me attempting to organise my home if the only reason is selfish motive. My attitude must be that in doing so, I'll be freed up to do other things. Like bale for my friends, or make fancy dress costumes out of old wedding veils - more on that another time perhaps.

It's finished
Jesus has died...and rose again. Our sins have been paid for. Nothing we do or don't do can affect this, providing we are trusting in him. Our certain hope of salvation won't dissipate if I give a guest beans on toast for dinner, or I haven't hoovered before they come.

We are not perfect yet
God is saving the best until last, so whilst we can try now, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to be more content, less lazy, less concerned about what others think, we won't always succeed.

The alternative to 'all' is not 'nothing', it is 'something'
I am an all or nothing person. I blitz my room or I leave it a dump. I'm learning that this isn't the best way to live. Don't try and do it all at once. Looking after a home is about building good habits, one at a time. It's only now I've got on top of the laundry, that I'm beginning to think about planning what I'll eat each week. Then I'll move onto clearing out my wardrobe and my clothing. A little a time is okay. Really.
Above all, remember that to struggle is no sin, but to struggle and refuse to ask the Lord for His help is disobedient and foolish-He loves us, and like a good earthly father wants us to ask for his help when we need it.

Thursday, 19 November 2009


Sorry, that was quite loud, but cake it is. A decent amount too. And one more success sojourn into gluten free, dairy free baking.

Sadly, the gluten-free thing was a success - I do feel much better. Having dinner outside of home, especially restaurant, is a bit of a trial. The whole thing feels so embarrassing, asking so many questions, and then feeling bad for not always believing them (though not without good reason).

Cooking at home is challenging, but is improving. Having bought an adult GF cookery boook, I found a lot of the recipes a bit, well, antsy. Then I discovered 'The Gluten free cook book for kids'. Yes, I know - I always did have a taste for children's books.

Not so Gluten free for kids. Chicken nuggets, meatballs, Spanish tortilla, meatloaf. And brownies.

Oh, those brownies!!....ah hem.

I have stacks of recipe books, but probably ever make one or two recipes out of them. This one already has a very wrinkly spine, additions written in biro and post-its coming out of every side.

An old university friend came to stay last weekend. Katie and I would have been friends six years this September just gone. It feels like we've always been. I really value her faithfulness, her love of books (especially children's ones!), her willingness to keep visiting even though I've yet to make it to the Isle of Wight. She is very kind. And because her mum has coeliac disease, she has no fear of gluten free baking. Hurray! A partner in crime...

We baked togther on the Friday evening: I made banana bread with walnuts, she made lovely little cup cakes, both from Adriana Rabinovich's fabulous book.

I would like to experiment and see if I can eat oats. If not, I may buy some gluten free ones in now and again as a treat - I would like to try Leila's fruit crisp topping. I mean, how good does that look?!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Remember, remember...

I paused this evening on the communal balcony to watch the fireworks displays across our local area. From the fifth floor we have a beautiful panoramic view from both sides of the flat.
As I watched them, I was reminded of one of Dad's anecdotes from his time in Iraq, how at some of the darkest moments in the first Gulf war, the sky of Bagdad, lit by orange flares and the flames of burning buildings, had resembled the beauty of bonfire night at home.

From the improntu firework display, to his keeping up with the housework, dusting the inside of his armoured vehicle with a paintbrush to keep the sand of the desert at bay, even in the thick of fighting, soldiers will look for the familar, the domestic. Many adopt wandering animals as pets, share the sweets from their rations with children not so very different from their own at home, and play football with them in the street. Daddy was no different.

Men and women have sacrificed their lives up and down the ages, so that we might enjoy these small pleasures of life, as well as the larger causes of freedom and justice.
So please, enjoy bonfire night with it's excitement and colour, and give thanks to God for those who gave much for you to be free to enjoy the everday delights of this world and the next.

"Two voices behind the line in France, May 1916"

'The roads are all torn';
'but the sun's in the sky,'
'The houses are waste';
'but the day is all fair,'
'There's death in the air';
'and the larks are on high,'
'Though we die-';
'it is spring-time, what do we care?'
'The gardens are rank';
'but the grass is still green,'
'The orchards are shot-torn';
'there's bloom on the trees,'
'There's's war all around';
'yet is nature serene,'
'There's danger';
'we'll bear it, fanned by the breeze.'
'Some are wounded';
'they rest, and their glory is known,'
'Some are killed';
'there's's peace for them under the sod,'
'Men's homes are in peril';
'their souls are their own,'
'The bullets are near us';
'not nearer than God.'

David Westcott Brown
(killed July 15, 1916)

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

In the Valley

In the Valley

Words and music by Bob Kauflin
As recorded on Valley of Vision


When You lead me to the valley of vision
I can see You in the heights
And though my humbling wouldn’t be my decision
It’s here Your glory shines so bright
So let me learn that the cross precedes the crown
To be low is to be high
That the valley’s where You make me more like Christ

Let me find Your grace in the valley
Let me find Your life in my death
Let me find Your joy in my sorrow
Your wealth in my need
That You’re near with every breath
In the valley

In the daytime there are stars in the heavens
But they only shine at night
And the deeper that I go into darkness
The more I see their radiant light
So let me learn that my losses are my gain
To be broken is to heal
That the valley’s where Your power is revealed

Song sample

Monday, 28 September 2009

Simple chicken soup

Every now and then, you crave something simple for lunch. Usually, that would be a cheese sandwich, or maybe a tin of soup. When you exclude both dairy and gluten, suddenly the options seem desperately limited.

Don't despair though!

This week a bought a roasted a whole chicken, and I will eat it for most of the coming week. Cooked chicken a great standby, and roasting your own rather than buying a cooked one means you know exactly what is (and isn't) in it. It's also much cheaper.

Chicken and sweetcorn soup

A handful of cooked chicken pieces
A tin of naturally sweet, sweetcorn
A generous handful of easy cook rice
1 stock cube

Cream sweetcorn with a blender until mushy (I know it looks weird!)
Add hot water to stock cube and stir until dissolved.
Add all other ingredients.
Bring to boil and then simmer until rice is cooked.

This recipe is based on stock cupboard ingredients, but obviously you could use home made stock and fresh corn is you wanted too. I must say I wasn't thrilled with the stock cube I used today, a Kallo veg one, and would use a Knorr one next time. I am a proponant of real chicken stock, but when you're only cooking for one, you don't get through enough chickens to make it regularly.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

chocolatey stars

I am a big fan of chocolate breakfast cereal. I know too much sugar is bad for you....blah de blah de blah....but every now and then I really crave kiddy cereal. When I gave up dairy I thought I'd said good bye to it, and pouring wheetos for brekka for the looked after children was strangely hard. But....

(drum roll please)


Dairy free, Egg free, Gluten free, Vegan, Wheat free, Organic CHOCOLATE STARS!!!

And they stay crunchy in the bowl way longer than wheeto's.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

a new adventure

I had a lovely visit to my dietitian the other day. She's incredibly lovely, very upbeat and positive. I'm so grateful to the Lord for her; she listens carefully, takes detailed notes, and really involves you in the whole process. She's also down to earth, and very realistic. Her summery at my latest appointment was that I'm doing well with the dairy-free thing, but if I'm still feeling unwell, then I should try cutting out gluten.

What, I hear you say, as well as dairy? Are you sure that's really necessary?

yup, I thought that too.

She then listed all the stuff that contained it, said she'd send me some literature in the post about it, and that I'm to give it a go for three weeks; if it doesn't work, then that's just fine, but I should try. She also told me I'd lost quite a lot of weight, that I mustn't lose anymore, and that I should therefore snack more. The few minutes I spent with her contained a lot of information, and it has taken a while to process it.

I'm trying to think of it as a new adventure, but I confess I've felt a bit overwhelmed for the last few days. I've only just got to grips with avoiding dairy, which is awkward, but avoiding both is going to be very hard. I think I'm secretly hoping it makes no difference. Or lots of difference. If I could regain the energy I had once upon a time, it would be worthwhile. And I'll need it, because eating gluten free means either bankrupting yourself or cooking mainly from scratch. But I do love cooking. The next three weeks will be a challenge, but God is biggest to help me handle it, and he's set the challenge that I might look to him for his help.

I wonder if manna was gluten and dairy free?

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Stoppit and Tidyup come to visit

My job is hard work. Work as hard work, I would argue, as I did in the NHS. Which sounds a bit lame for some one who apparently just makes coffee all day. If only all I did was make coffee.

Some thing I have always found hard was keeping my room tidy, and now when I come home from work extremely tired, the last thing I want to do is clear my room. I'm a 'bag dumper', which is exactly what it sounds like: I come in from work/shopping/holiday, and I dump my stuff on the floor. And forget about it.

I just can't face the mess. The immediate feeling I get from mess is overwhelming.

One cannot forget the golden rule, however.

What 'Golden Rule', I hear you say?

The one that states that my room MUST be clear before Tristan my music teacher comes to give me a lesson. The golden rule has been uniquely effective in keeping the chaos in my room under control, as it can't go on for any longer than the two to three weeks between lessons.

There's hope! Even people like me, when threatened with visitors, can turn this:

into this!

Alright, so it isn't a DRAMATIC turn around, but it was considerable better. I made it easier by splitting the job into two parts, doing the floor and ironing table on Tuesdays, and doing the washing and hoovering the floor today.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Come meet a man

Helen pointed out yesterday that major life events, like people getting married, getting a new job or being ill pull us up short and make us think about our own situation. They make us consider our own families, careers and health. Or the lack of them.

It's good to take some time to think, just occasionally, about where we are, where we want to be, and how we might get there.

I find my life still finds it's shape in the academic year: Michaelmas, Lent and Summer. My moods and my attitude to life are also very much influenced by the seasons.

I love all of the seasons in England. And I'm even growing to like the rain.

No, really.

Even though I'm working now, I try and take some time out each 'term' to think about how life is going. I've found it's quite easy for life to go on day to day, without much thought. Which is a shame, because if I only get one crack at being God's child on earth, I had better not squander it.

That's why I and around 50 other adults choose to spend a week of our holiday each year leading a group of 300 young people to think about what God has to say to us through the Bible, and particularly through his son, Jesus. There are so many ways we can serve the Lord, and this is one I have felt led to help with.

Contagious had it's 10th birthday this year, and we celebrated it by announcing that we had effectively run out of room for new people. Next year, there will be a Contagious West in Culford as usual, but a new Contagious East also, in Cardiff. And Contagious nano for 11-13's will begin at Culford too. It's all change. It's all exciting. And just a little bit scary.

To really appreciate what it is that makes following Jesus so worth it, you have to consider what life without him looks like. Contagious this year was titled 'Life without God'. Which is an odd name for a Bible centered youth conference if ever I heard one.

Having spent a full week immersed in what life without God really consists of, I felt very moved. It hurts to think about what people we know, and especially those we love, are choosing to follow instead of Jesus. It is a desperately sad situation, and moved me to tears on more than one occasion. It hurts when you tell others of God's great gift, and they are, at best, dis-interested.

It really hurts.

People say, keep trusting God. And they're right, I must keep trusting my loving Heavenly Father. But even if we trust God with a situation, such as some one being unwell, that doesn't always make the situation less painful. They are still ill, they are still refusing the gift of life. It's okay for you to hurt in that situation. We just have to make sure that the feelings of sadness don't smother what we know of God through Jesus Christ: that He is loving, that He is in control, and that He is powerful. God is bigger than the situations of myself and those I know. His will is best.

Life is a maze, and God is stood above it: He can see the whole layout, the whole picture. And I can't. I am too small. And that's okay. The best part is, I can go to Him and say, 'Daddy, this hurts, this breaks my heart.' He understands. It hurts Him too. The idea that people's relationship with Him was severed hurt so much, he gave His only son so that we could know him. How much more it must hurt Him that they still choose to turn away. How much more it makes me grateful that He chose me to be His child, even though I have no redeeming feature about me. What a joy. I'm so looking forward to meeting my Father in Glory. I have so much to thank Him for, so much to admire in Him. I have am amazing Heavenly Father.

This summer I have come away with a greater longing to meet Him, to know Him, a greater desire to share Him with others. Jesus longs for me tell people about how he gave his life for them, and how they can a have a new life through him, and a new and very real relationship with his Father. Who do I know who desperately needs the hope Jesus offers, the liberation, the freedom that comes from knowing our Creator loves us unconditionally? I know I do.

Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ ?

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Crumby flat, great views

Beautiful sunset from the bathroom window this evening. Crumby flat, fantastic views:


9 hours of work

2 coffees, one with Janin

1 meet up arranged with friends

1 load of laundry (uniform - No purple blotches on my clothes, unlike when I used the colour-catcher sheet-the irony is not lost me)

1 pile of quilt squares - 103 in total now (32 to go)

A decision to paint the hallway and the banisters next weekend - hold me to this one; I really must get on and do it!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Pancake day

Well, sought of. I learnt to make crepes today at the restaurant. And mocha's. The crepes are probably my best achievement, along with mastering the milk frother, in a large part due to the fact I was on a quieter counter.

Aside from that I had cut out a large number of squares. I find the cutting out part of sewing quite dull, and although using a rotary cutter technically makes things quicker, it will be a while before I'm accurate when I use it. I seem to spend a long of time trimming and re-trimming my squares. I have yet to make a star or heart template that I'm happy with, but I'll keep trying. Sorry about the fluorescent colours, the lighting in my room doesn't make for great evening photo's.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Day off

I had today off as I was stupid enough to eat something with dairy in it at the weekend, all because I was too embarrassed to tell someone I couldn't eat butter. Silly pride.

I didn't have the sick line number for work so I had to go in and say I was too ill to be there, which was a little odd. I think I might be fighting off a cold as well.

My manager was very lovely and said to see how I felt tomorrow and give her a ring. I think I'll still be feeling rough, but I should be able to function. I feel bad taking time off when I've only worked there for a week.

So I came home, slept from 11,00 til 2.45pm and then had a sandwich, drank some sanpellegrino lemonade and then cut out quilt pieces till this evening. I caught out on bogs I hadn't for while, and I'm now thinking about bed. Already? It's not even ten, but I figure if I'm tired, God has programmed my body to tell me to sleep.

Maybe tomorrow I'll manage to post something interesting like Ellen's post today.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Creative Quilting

I got up at a reasonable time this morning, showered, skipped breakfast and picked up the bags of stuff for the charity shop. I headed out the door at about 9.20 and headed for the train station via the Cancer Research shop, flashed my young persons' card, bought a return to Hampton court station and went and sat on the platform for 20 minutes.

Creative quilting is nestled in the high street of West Mosley, just over the bridge from Hampton Court Palace. I only found out where it was via it's website but I must of walked past it a few times before.

Visiting this shop as someone who sews is like being a child is sweeter shop. The range of colours, buttons, ribbons, threads, tools and other oddments is enchanting.

I really enjoy visiting, but I don't go often because I always end up spending too much money! Now I have a sewing machine, I can finally attempt something I have always wanted to try: making a quilt for my bed. I spent two hours browsing and selecting co-ordinating fabric with the help of a lovely lady who seemed to have all the time in the world for me. She also helped me choose a rotary cutter, ruler and cutting board. These are pretty much essential - it's really hard to cut perfect pieces with scissors, goodness knows I've tried. Here's my haul:

I've never really used ready made patterns for anything I've sewn so I figured, why start now? Here's the pattern I came up with in the shop. I flicked through a number of books in the store to get composition and colour ideas, including two particulary beautiful books, 'Prairie Children and Their Quilts' by Kathleen Tracy, and 'The world as it should' by Anni Downs.

Before I can start any sewing I will need to cut out, starch and iron all my pieces. No sewing for a while then!!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Where are Stoppit and Tidyup when you need them?

I have today and tomorrow off, and days off mid-week always freak me out slightly. I inevitably stay in bed too late and then get up with a head ache. The head ache is nearly gone, probably aided by eating lunch and drinking some water.

My room has been in a dire state for sometime, so today was the day. I have put away 8 weeks (yep, 8) of clean laundry, sorted some stuff to go to the charity shop and thought about what my next sewing project would be. I would like to make some cushion covers for my friend and also a skirt for autumn. Because I have worn GAP clothes for so long, I really value being able to choose what I wear now. The clothes you wear must always be in season, which has meant recently buying new GAP clothing every four weeks! Some of there stuff is nice but it's quite samey and I'm rather bored of it.

Yesterday Janin convinced me to buy a new cardi from Cath Kidston that I had liked and was now in sale. I'm really pleased with it.

I also have my new sewing machine which I am VERY excited about. I have hand sewn for almost fifteen years, but before now lots of projects were out of the question because they would either take too long, or wouldn't be strongly enough sewn to last.

So far I have made new headscarf, and a pillow case to try it out.

I usually only use a running stitch or on rare occassions, blanket stitch, so I'm rather bowled over by the number of different stitches it does.

Sorry about the photo quality, it's really grey and miserable today, so trying to take photos on a phone was a bit of a nightmare!

Friday, 17 July 2009

If 'Cleanliness' is next to 'Godliness', you obviously don't know your ABC......

Some of us in our house struggle with keeping it clean. Some more than others.

Living in my current house is still much better than when I shared as a student; the Korean lads are pretty clean and tidy. I shall try and get a photo of the post-it above the hob: "Please keep clean, I'm begging you!!!" This is from one of the boys, not me. I guess it's one way of employing new vocabulary.

The general rule is that you clean up after yourself as soon as possible. I do my washing up, and occasionally other peoples. It's a great way to bless my brothers and sisters in Christ. But I'm not very organised, so there are days when I rush doing it before work so it isn't in the way all day, and so run out of time to eat brekka. Not so good.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

"Come home son, it's supper time; come home."

The immortal words of Johnny Cash. In 'Supper time' he's reminisces about his mother calling him in for dinner from the back steps of their family home. He also comments that it reminds him that one day, another will call to him from above "Come home son, it's supper time; come home."

Every time we eat it's a great opportunity to look back to that last meal Jesus had with his disciples, and to look forward to the great wedding feast when he returns. Paul reminds us: "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." An echo of God's mercy and love, on average three times a day! Isn't that fantastic?

God knows us so well, and has found a way to gently remind of His love for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...