Monday, March 31, 2008

Visit to Grandpa and Grandma's

After church on Sunday the kids and I and Emily went over to my parents for the afternoon. We had a lovely time and it was nice to walk around and see what mom had sitting here and there:

a few lovely plants blooming in the front window

a very excited dog who tried to convince Andrew and James that they would make perfect playmates. Unfortunately, Andrew and James weren't convinced. Instead, they were convinced they better steer clear of Carlie. (Advice to Carlie: try the slow and easy method next time)

Mom and Dad are in the middle of kitchen renovations just now. So, they have a temporary kitchen in the mud room. I told mom she should write a series of blog entries on "Advice to Kitchen-Less Cooks". Mom gets creative with her toaster oven, electric frying pan, camp stove,

electric kettle, crockpot, rice cooker and microwave. I watched in amazement as mom cooked spaghetti in the rice cooker! I've done oatmeal, but hadn't tried spaghetti. Dad heats milk for making yogurt in the rice cooker too! I'm beginning to think if you were in serious conditions maybe a rice cooker is all you need!
A few more still lifes tucked in various corners -- the growing onion
a cute little bird that is waiting to be painted
and a pretty scene centered around teatime.

Baby Cakes needed a little TLC from Grandma after his nap. Grandma's usually do a good job of that.
Grandpa kept Andrew busy in the garage where they were making a new wing for the "flying duck" who lost his wing in a storm last year.
Mom's violets are doing wonderfully (her secret -- banishing them to the back corner of the garden last year and leaving them to brave summer storms on their own before taking pity and returning them to the living room)
Of course we had to have tea (several rounds of it in fact).
Mom has plenty to choose from!
The travellers are back! It sounds like Rachel had an incredible time. I have a few pictures to post next time of her visiting the farm.

Friday, March 28, 2008

This and That

The travellers are off. From what I hear, Rachel is being spoiled by all the attention from her Dad and the two other "grandfather-types" who are along for the ride. Apparently, she requested they find a buffet for dinner so she could have white pasta with butter (something her mother does not allow her to have very often).

Baby Cakes is sick with a nasty ear infection. The boys and I spent the afternoon going to the doctor's and picking up a prescription. That served to fill up our time and give us something to occupy our minds and bodies.

The boys wanted waffles for dinner (actually, they wanted snowmen pancakes, but when I offered waffles instead, they were pretty enthusiastic). Fried eggs were a nice addition to dinner, as well as a bowl of my current favorite salad -- spinach with apples and toasted almonds with a lemon juice dressing.
The house is silent now. I think I'm going to take myself off to bed with a stack of books, a good pen and my notebook, and hopefully some nice music. I'm going to ignore the messy house, email, and other things, and hope tomorrow will provide time to deal with them.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Grey Sort of Day

Today was a grey sort of day. One of those drippy days when life goes on as normal and nothing very exciting happens. Laundry, ironing, schoolwork, meals to fix, and a trip to pack for. Michael and Rachel are headed out to Iowa tomorrow, and I'm trying to get things organized for them.

Rachel reminded me subtly that she was looking forward to her backpack being all packed up with surprises. Apparently she also informed Michael of this anticipation. When the children were younger and we went on holidays we always packed up a little backpack of things to do on the trip and these were kept a surprise until we started out.

Well, being as I had little notice of Rachel going on the trip, and no trips to the store planned, I had to get creative. She's going to have to make do with a new bag (instead of new "things") and mostly just her regular books and sewing things to fill it. There is a granola bar and a little bag of sweets tucked in, so maybe that will make her happy.

I have fond memories of a time when I was 4 and went on a road trip somewhere with my Dad. My mom made the most wonderful contraption to hang on the back of the front carseat - it looked like a shoe organizer and each pocket was filled with a little activity or treat. Fortunately, Rachel doesn't have that memory to compare to yet! (Although someday I'd love to do that for her.)

Once all the packing is done and the travellers are off, it will be time to return to other grey matters -- taxes. Ugh! It's that time of year again. And, it seems that pastor's taxes can be so difficult! Maybe by the time we retire I'll be a pro at this.

Now I've got to think of a few fun things to do with the little boys who will be left behind. Andrew wants to play a jellybean game and I'm sure James is anxious to play Cooties. It will be fun to be with the "younger" kids for once and get back in the groove of what they like to do without an intense older sister around.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I love being pleasantly surprised by the unexpected. Last night Michael, Rachel, and I attended Rachel's Rosebud Scripture Recital. For the last 9 months the girls have been memorizing Ephesians chapter 6 and this was the night to invite the dads and let everyone hear the entire chapter.

Having never been to one of these recitals before, I wasn't sure just what to expect. We were invited to one of the families' homes downtown where everyone crowded into their spacious front room.

It is always fun to see someone's house -- especially when it is different from one's own and filled with fascinating objects or creativity in a way different from one's own bent. It was apparent this home was filled with music -- there were "serious" music stands, stools for sitting, a cello propped in a stand, a piano in the corner piled with music and two gilded cherub candle sticks perched precariously on either side. I loved it! Everywhere I turned there was something interesting -- a piece of lovely old furniture, groupings of china bunnies, stacks of music, shelves of books, light filtering through the large, paned windows of this historic-era home.

The girls all did a wonderful job reciting their verses. They divided into about 4 groups and this was "Rachel's group" :)
After the Scripture recital, we were invited to go into the dining room for cookies which had been baked by the daughter of whose home we were visiting. The cookies were exquisite! (Rachel declared her little chick "too cute to eat" and had to bring it home.) I didn't include a close-up of the "Easter-basket cookies" but they were decorated with a Reeses' peanut butter cup cut in half for the basket and icing flowers.
Then, our hostess, Colette, had arranged a special treat. Colette plays in the local chamber orchestra. With a performance of Max Bruch's clarinet concerto coming up this weekend, Colette decided to invite a few musicians over for a "practice" session. So for the next 20+ minutes, we were treated to an amazing production of this piece.

Colette played the viola, and Michael and I were sitting right there at her elbow! I tell you, it is really something to hear these instruments perform when you are SO close to them! The clarinet really came into its own with this piece. And the pianist played a condensation of the remaining pieces in the orchestra -- she was quite amazing since her piece was quite fast and involved.

When all was said and done, it was time to take Rachel off to Starbucks for a little reward just with Mom and Dad. We happened to run into a friend working behind the counter and she carefully concocted a raspberry steamer for Rachel to enjoy with her lemon cake.

It was definately an enjoyable evening for all of us!

Monday, March 24, 2008


Easter has come and gone. We had a wonderful time yesterday and today I feel somewhat "lost" as the focus I've had for the past month or so is suddenly over. Time to relax and take it easy I think. :)
There was plenty to do to get ready for hosting Easter dinner. The family pitched right in and we all worked together on Saturday to get the house looking better than it has ever looked! Thank you Michael and children!!!

Emily came home with flowers and an idea which sprouted into adorable centerpieces for the table.

I wrapped up hot cross buns to serve as name places/favors.

Everything was finally ready and waiting for our guests to arrive!

For a few hours, our living room (the most put-together room in the house) looked quite nice! If only it could look like this everyday! :)

David loves to get out the broom and pretend to help. I run around paranoid that I'm going to be socked in the head with the broom handle.
And I did manage to get something of a group shot of the Easter bunnies.
Grandma arrived early and entertained the children with a story.

We had a lovely assortment of appetizers: mini hot cross buns, veggies, grapes, strawberries with fruit dip, marinated baked olives, and baked brie that was outstanding! (We accidentally baked it too long, but we decided we like it this way as you could just scoop it onto a cracker and let it melt in your mouth.
We had a lovely spinach and apple salad:
I cooked my very first leg of lamb, which I was very relieved to have turn out! I made a Shrewsbury Sauce to accompany it, which was delightful. We had steamed carrots and asparagus, potato slices baked in cream, and a peach-spice jello salad. I can only take credit for the lamb and vegetables, as well as hot cross buns. Everything else was brought by various guests!
The kids had their own little table, and loved drinking the punch (for my British friends -- "punch" in America is usually just juice with fizzy water, so no worries! :) )
The happiest moment for a hostess is seeing her guests enjoying the food and having a splendid time at the table. This made me so happy!

After dinner, it was time to get out the teas and coffees. I love using what I refer to as my "Easter egg teacups". I have 9 of these cups, from 2 different sets. I think they are just perfect for Easter!
We had a three-layer chocolate cake which I did steal a bite of, and it was really, really good! And some wonderful, almond-flavored nut cookies with icing, which I also had a bite of and decided they were very, very good. (And I'm wanting to eat one today) And then we had an incredible Lemon Cheesecake topped with home-made lemon curd and the best rasberries I've tasted in so long!

I should have taken a picture to end with of the table once the meal was over! Many thanks to my mom and other family members who chipped in to help with the clean up as Michael and I and the children dashed away to the evening service!
And what shall the next event be?.........

Saturday, March 22, 2008

All Things New

"Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,"" John 11:25

"Behold the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new."" Revelation 21:3-5

Friday, March 21, 2008

Officially Spring

Spring is officially here! If we can't have it in reality, at least we can have it on the calendar! Nevertheless, little bits of Spring are popping up around the house, and I feel as though we are gaining momentum to leave winter behind!

When we were first married, I started the tradition of Spring Tea on the first day of Spring. The contents of our tea varies each year, but two things are constant -- we must have strawberries, and we must use the "spring" tablecloth I found one year in a charity shop.

The tablecloth is covered with a variety of spring flowers, beginning with snowdrops, and I just love it!

Rachel took charge of our tea today (yes, we were a day late, but I couldn't get to the store to get the strawberries until today, and besides, the 21st seems a better day). She got the tea prepared and the cinnamon toast made so all I had to do was arrive with the strawberries.

We used cups from our wedding china -- not a fancy china, but one that definately says "spring"! The children just love strawberries!

Here you can see some more of the flowers -- snowdrops, violets, bluebells, daffodils

Yesterday the dining area was looking so bright and cheery with the sun shining in! It did feel more like Spring!

And as I mentioned, the hot cross buns made the house smell like spring earlier in the week.

And we have a lovely basket of beautifully colored eggs sitting on the table.

And now for a day of work ahead as we do all the final preparations for a big feast on Sunday!