Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

We hope you all have had a peaceful season, enjoying the winter moments in whatever place you are.

This is our last Christmas in Glasgow. We return to the states at the end of January, when our lives will face a tumultuous change. We look forward to meeting up with all of you who are stateside in the new year. It has been a season of changes for us - anticipated and unanticipated - and we look forward to the encouragement we'll receive by being close to family and old friends again. We are sometimes a bit terrified of the prospect of starting life over, but we know God has us in His hands, the best place one can be.

Our last year in Glasgow has been full of deepened friendships, opportunities to serve in unexpected ways, and lots of wondering about what the future holds. We've been thinking on the many ways Glasgow, Scotland, and Europe have influenced us as individuals and as a married couple, and wondering how this will mesh with our move back to the states. It will be a readjustment to be immersed in the American culture again! Simple things ... taking buses everyday, only buying as many groceries as we can carry a half mile, and of course the constant nearly intravenous drip of good British tea. We'll now begin a new adventure in life, and we're so happy it means we will be able to see many of you often!

Wishing you joy and peace, all those things that sound cliche but are such a meaningful blessing when they are realised.

(Here are a couple of Christmas-y songs we like this year!)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Parsing (kind of like Snakes On A Plane?)

Being the condescending westerner that I am, I was enjoying this seemingly eccentric phrasing on the menu of a local Moroccan restaurant:

The Argan bears plum-sized fruits, which are eaten by goats on the tree.
Ha! Goats in a tree! Crazy Moroccans. Then Michael pointed out to me that there actually were goats up in the tree in the photo next to this paragraph.
It turns out that goats actually do climb Argan trees to get at the fruit. Who knew?

Photo from Wikipedia

Sunday, September 27, 2009

For all of you who keep asking what Joel is doing with all his free time now that he's submitted his PhD:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Back to Hungary, part 3: Places that are NOT Hungary.

This is NOT Hungary.
This is Vienna.

Exhibit A: The cathedral in the centre of the city. Lovely, so dramatic, in the night and the day. The roof is pretty amazing. Vienna had lots of roofs like that, that are different colours, very bright and vivacious. So did the big city in Hungary we went to.
Exhibit B: This is a building in Vienna not too far from the cathedral. I find the painting appealing. (This is not a pun.)
Exhibit C: This is at the War Museum in Vienna. Do you like the armoured man's skirt? Apparently, they didn't actually use the skirt armour in battles. They saved that for special occassions, like fancy shmancy balls and courting rituals, parades, that sort of thing. You know, armoured fashion.

We also went to the Museum of Musical Instruments, which was pretty much the coolest museum we've ever been to. They had Mozart's piano, and some other crazy instruments that seemed like something out of a really intelligent 12 year old's dreams. Joel liked the guitar with a built in foot pedal capo.

This is also NOT Hungary.
This is Slovenia.
Richard took us for superb iced coffee with ice cream and the thickest, most gorgeous whipped cream I've ever tasted.The view from the castle. There were loads of vineyards on the hillsides.
This is inside the castle. We saw endless examples of the type of embroidery I would spend my whole life striving for. I will show you some that I brought back with me later.

We enjoyed our day trip to Slovenia.

This is ALSO NOT Hungary. This is Croatia.The colour of the water. I wanted so badly to jump in and never come out again, to swim in it so much that I turned that immense shade of blue, and it would be part of me forever.
Waterfalls, water falling.
Water falling, falling, falling, splash!
The puppy sleeping on my lap on the drive. When we arrived at the national park, she refused to go up the stairs. She was so tired. Tired and gorgeous.
I LOVE teals and blues and greens all together. It speaks to my soul in such an immense way. It frees my heart. Do you know what I mean? Just looking at even the photos makes my heart feel fluttery in an 'I'm-falling-in-love' sort of way. Is that totally ridiculous? I just love teal water so much.
It was like Disneyland, with all the people! But Disneyland doesn't even come close. I choose natural, clear, teal water over shiny plastic any day.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Taking a short break from our exploits in Hungary, here are some glimpses of our weekend. We took full advantage of the sunny weekend, being fully aware it may be the last bits of Glasgow sun we see as residents here.

Cathkin Braes Country Park - the highest point in Glasgow.

The Braes' shrooms

The promise of my downcast container garden

An evening on the balcony

Monday, September 07, 2009

Hungary, Part Deux: ICE CREAM

While Joel puts together posts about interesting bits of language and words in Hungary, I will continue to spend my energies on remembering the ICE CREAM. Oh, I couldn't forget anyway. It's part of me now. (Very literally, since we ate ice cream EVERY SINGLE DAY. Sometimes more than once. Oh the glory.)
Now let us join together in the common bond of love for ice cream. Let us realise the creamy goodness, the rich mountains of splendor...

First, the Hungarian national ice cream. This is one we ate sitting under the apple trees in the garden, watching the doggie go crazy. It is vanilla ice cream, hazelnut ice cream, and frozen marmalade, all swirled in together. Surprising, but tasty!

Then there was tiramisu ice cream... one of the great wonders of the world... oh except biscotti which may rise above.

We had green apple ice cream, Russian Cream ice cream, vanilla, coffee, blackberry...

I do maintain the blue ribbon goes to the Sour Cherry and Poppyseed ice cream. The poppyseeds took their responsibility seriously, and did not disappoint.

Oh, ice cream. Oh, a country where the weather allows for comfortable eating of ice cream...

Tonight my dreams will be cold and wonderful.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A List of Hungarian Villages...

...and the rough translations of their names in English.* A result of our recent adventures in Eastern Europe, guided by our friend Richard and his mom, Elizabeth. This should be all you need to know to tell whether we had a good time. And to form a favorable opinion of the Hungarian language and mindset.

Hungarian Name
English Translation
Pagan St. Peter
My Big Problem (or Monkey?)
Little Translator
Mouse Branch
Amputated All Saints
Abundant Coal Wood
(The) Rolling
Barely a Castle
Groaner (possibly professional?)
It's Dripping

Stay tuned for further details.

*Translations provided by Richard, who reserves the right to find better ones.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Biggest Kitchen Table -- Green Cleaning

Today's discussion (and I interpret 'today' in the broadest sense possible, encompassing last week, when Rhonda actually discussed it) is on Green Cleaning.

'Green Cleaning' makes so much sense. Whatever you call it. You don't need a trendy name or 'eco-friendly' term to do what our grandparents just did as part of life. Really, it's just about cleaning. It is about simplifying the process, eliminating excess, reducing unnecessary chemicals, and learning how many uses a simple thing like baking soda has.

We've been better at this, but just last week Joel and I had a discussion/minor conflict over 'bathroom cleaner' versus the baking soda method. What it boils down to is that we haven't made it simple enough to do it the right way. Joel pointed out that it's a lot easier to grab the spray bottle of chemicals than to find the baking soda, find a rag, etc. So that is my task for this discussion. Joel has already started by assigning a container to keep the bathroom cleaning stuff in. We use old socks as rags, so there are a couple of those in there. Joel assigned a particular sock to use to clean the outside of the toilet, and I wrote 'toilet sock' on sharpie on it. I think this is probably kind of scary to anyone who happens across it in our flat. I like to wonder what our friends think of us sometimes.

My goals for green cleaning:

  • Buy a separate baking soda to keep in the cleaning box.
  • Mix up a general all purpose cleaner that will keep in a spray bottle. I have loads of recipes for this but haven't done it yet. That would make things easier.
What are your thoughts on this? Is it easier to just buy chemical cleaners? Is it worth the initial extra time to use 'green' cleaners? Are you convinced that natural ingredients really get the things clean?

PS Another interesting event -- our friends just gave us their eco-balls, which you use instead of laundry soap, and the balls last 18 months before needing a refill (an example of when greener is cheaper - we will now spend zilch on our laundry for the next year). They gave them to us because the husband missed the smell of laundry detergent in his clothes. Have you ever tried the green option and then decided you like your old habit better?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Biggest Kitchen Table -- Electricity and Water

Today's discussion was on electricity and water. I don't think we have much to change in this area. We are in rented accommodation, which means we can't change any appliance issues. And I don't think we need to anyway. All the stuff the landlord picked out is energy efficient, water saving stuff. Nice. Although if we had our way, we'd have a slightly less efficient fridge that actually had a fan built in. There is a dishwasher. We don't use this, to save money and save energy and because it seemed like it might explode the last couple times we used it. There is a tumble dryer. We don't use this either, for the same reasons sans the exploding thing. We were used to hanging all our clothes to dry anyway from our last flat which didn't have a dryer, so we figure why use it? We let guests use it if they need to. :-) We like never use our heaters in the winter, hardly ever. We're cool with it. Double-glazed windows, you know.

Water. We're on city council water, and because of Joel's student status we don't even pay for our council tax or water. So they don't really tell us how much we use.

That's all I have to say about that.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Biggest Kitchen Table -- Food

I appreciate the comments on the last post regarding Living Deliberately and Money. So many of you comment on Facebook, I wonder if you realise I actually haven't been on facebook for over a year, and this is actually a post on our blog! But I do get and appreciate the comments, all the same.

I relate so much to D and T, who both related to how living a transplanted lifestyle makes simplifying life and belongings a lot more... easier? necessary? A little of both, I suppose. Moving to a different country is one of those things where you do begin to realise you are not defined by your possessions. We don't collect much unnecessary junk. We don't buy lots of things, because we realise we'll just have to get rid of most of it again when we leave here. Any spending decisions are truly intentional - is this worth shipping back to the states?

I love that T brought up her intentional choice not to have a TV. We're the same. I think it's been so good and I highly recommend not having one, at least for a while, especially at the beginning of a marriage. That is such a magnificent, underrated way to simplify life, begin to establish what is important to you, and think about spending your time intentionally instead of letting it get sucked away by the wires.
Biggest Kitchen Table -- Food
Today's discussion is on food. I am intimidated to start this blog post, because I want to keep it short, and food is probably the one subject I think the most about. There is so much to say! So I think I will focus on my accomplishments in this area in the past year or so, and my goals for the next year or so.

Things I am glad I've changed in the last year:

  • I've begun growing! I have my two tomato plants, and lots of spinach. I planted lettuce but the aphids enjoyed those and as such I have had to abandon them. I'm doing it the good old fashioned way without chemicals.
  • I've learned to like: mushrooms, tomatoes, plain yogurt, Greek yogurt, green olives, balsamic vinegar. (I know, I know, how could I not like those things before?)
  • We make lots more homemade.
  • I make our breakfast granola. I feel like this improves my day so much! I love doing this!
  • Read Nourishing Traditions. I've started applying her ideas more to our cooking and eating. She really gives convincing arguments for fermentation, sprouting seeds/beans, etc.
  • We cook mostly everything from scratch.
  • We buy local a lot more, and are a lot more conscientious when it comes to this. It's fairly easy to do here, besides the issue of citrus. I definitely draw the line when it comes to foods from south africa or south america; that's pretty much the furthest away you get here. We can get everything we need from the UK or Spain at the furthest. Except limes.
Goals - in the next year or as soon as possible:
  • Clean and reorganise our cupboard. It's shameful, really. Full of all the pots/cooking things, as well as all our grains/cans/pasta/flour/etc. So haphazard.
  • Defrost our fridge. I don't even want to talk about why we have to defrost our fridge. Sometime I think I'll do a post on our fridge, to show you what we have to work with here. It has about 3 cubic inches of space. I'm exaggerating just a little.
  • Try growing a couple new vegetables. I expect that during the next growing season, we'll be living with the parents. My growing capacity will still be limited although I will have a lot more outdoor space, at least for pots.
  • Grow garlic
  • Buy predominately organic dairy products
  • Research & start composting. It's just impossible in this flat, but I'm trying to research a bit more and figure out what would be feasible to do once we leave this place.
Future goals - long term:
  • Use open-pollinated / heirloom seeds. In other words, the way our grandparents used to grow things. Keep the same seeds from the same produce year after year. The books Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and The Omnivore's Dilemma convinced me of this. I might start this with tomatoes next year.
  • Grow zucchini/courgette, more tomatoes, rhubarb, beans, squashes, onions, garlic, cabbage, lots more veg.
  • Learn more about taking care of soil.
I think I'll cut it short from here. Food is one of those subjects that I can go on and on about. I think many of you are passionate about it as well. Let's keep encouraging each other and learning from each other in this area! A few of us have become fairly proficient at living in a small place while still trying to live within our morals when it comes to food and food systems.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The sky... this is one thing I will miss about living here. Not that this particular photo is award-winning, but the sky here tends to be quite outspoken. During the summer, the sunsets last for hours. The winters have very abrupt, very magnificent sunsets and sunrises. In the winter I find joy in watching the sunrise from the bus stop on my way to work. In the summer, the closest we see to a sunrise is the dusk after the official sunset. Clouds. The clouds stretch, reach out, exist, and when they aren't dominating the sky, they showcase lovely light and colour. I will miss Scotland's sky.

Tonight I went to a friend's birthday night out, came home pretty early, and sat on the hospital's ledge at the corner of our street, watching the sky change colours. Joel is at a gig, so I had the luxury of independence and loneliness. Who can feel lonely when watching such beauty? (no offiense to Joel's company!) While I was sitting quietly, an old Scottish woman walked by and started talking to me (as they so often do). She told me she was going to pick some grass for her cat, that it helped her stomach, and went on to tell me about how she so would love to let her cat outside, but the Cat Protection said there was too much traffic. So she settles for bringing her cat grass. The woman told me she often gets grass from Bearsden (just outside of Glasgow), that's how spoiled she is! I love these people who share their life stories for no apparent reason. I will miss that too.
This is Joel, with the rhubarb cake I made on his lap. I don't want to gloat over the fact that he's slowly beginning to like rhubarb, I really just want to show how sacrificial his love is, to be prepared to like rhubarb, for my sake. This is truly a wonderful man, folks. Seriously, have any of your partners been prepared to give up a lifelong adamant detestation of such an assertive food?

Okay, now let's address the matter at hand: The Biggest Kitchen Table discussion. Today is on Living Deliberately, and Money.

Living Deliberately: This is about living with intention, having your life goals in mind in your everyday actions. It is a departure from living for the moment. For me, I first began thinking about this and practicing it in high school. My close friend who acted as a spiritual and personal mentor to me, Lori, taught me about what it means to live intentionally, and caused me to really meditate on this. I believe we do fairly well at this. It is about a balance - not living fully in the future, but living the present while thinking about and preparing for the future. My goals are varied, alive, and I like to think simple. I want to grow my own vegetables - I've started that this year, with windowpots full of spinach and tomato plants. Just a small step, but a step nonetheless. It helps me learn some things slowly, and hopefully in the future I'll have access to some real dirt to grow things in.

Money: Joel and I do well managing our money, out of necessity, and a conviction that 'your money is where your heart is'. We have been given hard lessons to learn in our married life, centred about being dependent and accepting help from others. I hope this prepares us for a future in which we are able to help others in the same way.

We're very careful with our money, and apart from bills like rent and electricity, and my student loan payments, the only thing we really spend money on is food. Food is an area we would like to spend less money on, by making more things ourselves, and growing things ourselves. The spinach has been a success. The main hindrance to making more things homemade is the time factor. As we both essentially work full time, it is difficult to live up to our aspirations We often experiment with this; we were making our own bread for a time earlier in the spring; Joel has made yogurt on occassion; we were in the habit of a weekly from-scratch pizza night.. but when things get busy, these things fall away and we end up buying bread. In that case, we buy nice bread - we tend to buy Polish bread that doesn't have any preservatives - but of course buying things is more expensive, and often not as good quality, as homemade. Both of us look forward to a time when Joel is working, and hopefully I'll have a bit mroe time in the home to do things like this. Food is very important to me (you may have notices). So I look forward to tomorrow when Rhonda looks at the food issue.
Our money goals are essentially: -to eliminate debt (all of the student loan nature) -to have a savings account

I hope this isn't too much information, I know we don't usually share so much on the blog. Anyone have any thoughts about any of this?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Rhonda from the Down to Earth Blog is setting this week aside to look at how well we are sticking to our goals of simplifying life, reducing excessive belongings, and taking care with the way we manage our households in this way. As this is something I've been focusing on more, I thought I'd join in with her and see if I notice any ways I can make our life a bit more simple and sustainable.

One thing I expect to focus on is reducing the number of disposable items in our lives - we try to do this but even the past couple of months I've been realising more things we could easily do.

I'll be recording my conclusions here. Rhonda is doing this every day of the next week, but I'll probably follow along at my own pace - I can't keep up with the daily blog roll.

Hope you are all well, feel free to pick up ideas along the way!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Joel and Heather's Guide to alternative tourism

Or: Our Third London

Having traveled to and enjoyed London together twice before in the past three years (I'd been once before in high school as well), Heather and I decided to pay London a final visit before leaving the UK. We'd seen and done most of the typical touristy stuff (at least, all the touristy stuff you can see and do for less than £5), so we wanted a less metropolitan (but equally cheap) experience this year. The more well-known, touristy London is definitely worth seeing — especially if it's your first trip or you have a bit of travel money saved up — but there are tons of other interesting things to do in less crowded, less maddening areas.

We arrived by train at London Euston station. Immediately upon exiting, we stumbled into the British Library (serendipity!), which houses such national treasures as the Magna Carta, the original handwritten Alice in Wonderland, the Lindisfarne Gospels, and two of the oldest existing Greek Bibles: the Codices Sinaiticus (4th century) and Alexandrinus (5th century). After dinner (Pret), we met our welcoming and hospitable (Polish) CouchSurfing hosts, Gregor, Joanna, and their two children. Gregor has very wide musical taste and introduced me to one of the best musical ideas I've ever heard: Polish folk reggae! Here's a video (warning: Youtube). Jamaicans in the snow!!!

The Roof Gardens in Kensington are Richard Branson's private garden (and nightclub) on the roof of a six-story building in central London. There are three gardens on the roof (Tudor, Spanish, and English Woodlands), with trees, flowers, shrubs, ducks, and even four pink flamingos ('Bill', 'Ben', 'Splosh', and 'Pecks'). This was definitely a highlight of our trip. It's pretty surprising to walk out on a rooftop and find such a nice garden. Doesn't cost anything to see during the day — just call ahead to make sure there are no weddings or events going on. From there, we go to Kensington Gardens, which are tacked on to the west side of Hyde Park, where we eat a picnic breakfast and sit by the water. There's so much green space inside London! We did indulge in a couple of touristy activities today; we checked out the Portobello Road Markets area (the actual market is only on the weekends), and went to Westminster in the evening to sit by the Thames and look at the Houses of Parliament for a while. Most importantly, we stopped at the Algerian Coffee Stores, which we discovered last year, to buy tea and coffee. Why did I buy Colombian when they have so many other hard-to-find varieties of coffee? I don't know. I'm bad at last-minute decisions. Heather bought some Ti Kuan Yin, a really good choice.

Oxford. What can I say? It's impressive, ancient, and overrun by tourists (to whom most of the city's doors are barred and bolted tight). We got ice cream and watched tourists trying to propel their rented punts and stay dry at the same time, then went for dinner at the Eagle and Child. This, as you may know, is the seventeenth-century pub at which the Inklings (C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, et al.) met every Tuesday morning for 30 years to discuss whatever legendary authors, philologists, and theologians discuss. We were highly impressed with how low-key it all was. They did sell t-shirts and had pictures of the Inklings on the wall, but the pub did not have any hint of that tacky shrine feel that tourist attractions seem to aim for. It was still very much a functioning pub, with decent prices, good food, and warm ale. Oxford was a bit of a mixed bag for us: it's good to have finally seen the University and the Bodleian Library (or their exteriors); on the other hand, it's not a good place to visit on a budget, and tourism in a University town seems problematic. There's no way, as a tourist, to participate, which is surely the whole point of the University as an institution. Also, did not succeed in obtaining a boater hat for Heather. Apparently they are no longer in fashion.

Spent the whole day in Hampstead Heath, 790 acres of forest, bogs, ponds, and fields to the northwest of central London. Its status as a park dates back to the 900s A.D. It boasts one of the best views of the city, apparently protected by law, from Parliament Hill (a.k.a. Kite Hill). There are also ponds for swimming (a sign reads: 'Warning: the water is cold, opaque, and untreated. Deep silt.') and fishing (catch and release, no barbed hooks or live bait), although we hadn't come prepared for either. We had great weather, got a bit sunburned, wandered aimlessly in the woods, climbed a tree, ate tinned fish for lunch, and envied all the people with dogs. If we ever come back to London, we will definitely spend more time here. In the evening, Gregor cooked us a traditional Polish dinner with fried pork chops and boiled potatoes; everything covered in dill. Amazing.

Took the train home; tried to write postcards while the cars semi-successfully attempted to negotiate the rails.

In summary, our favorite activities are sitting and walking, for both of which London is an ideal location.

P.S. There are more pictures from our trip here on our Picasa page.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The most promising knitting results so far:

This is a matching hat and bootie set that I knitted for Scarlet, the baby girl due to arrive any moment now to our pastor and his wife here in Glasgow.
The hat is this pattern. It's simple and fast (the joy of knitting for babies!), and I love how it turned out! The ribbon weaves in and out of the little eyelets around the hat.The booties are Saartje's Bootees on Ravelry. These are pretty simple, I had a bit of trouble with the straps, but worked through it somehow. Whether or not it's how it was meant to be done is fairly irrelevant, as it turned out fine!

The wool is 50% wool, 50% alpaca and several mothers I asked thought it would be soft enough for a baby. The photos don't do the wool justice, it really is beautiful. A dusk purple, with the most subtle little pink here and there, if you are actually looking for it.

What do you think? I'm quite proud of them!

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I made this! This afternoon! I used this pattern. The fabric is heavy duty cotton, really thick, I think some sort of upholstery fabric or something. It made it a nice, thick bag that has some substance.

The inside fabric is the same weight. The lighting is fairly atrocious, but I don't think the pink stripes are quite so garrish in real life. I dunno, I'm not into pink anyway.

As you see below, it's reversible! So if one liked garrish pink stripes, they could turn it inside out. I don't think I would.

The bag has a flat bottom - which is pretty cool, considering I'm not a master seamstress.

Our sewing machine was given to us by Christine, our Glasgow friend who moved to Boston last year. She's German. She gave us odds and ends of extra fabric too, which is what I used for the bag! So, this was free to make! Amazing. I love free. We pulled out the sewing machine last week finally, and repaired some clothing. This bag will be filled with some basic essential oils, some natural cleaning recipes, etc and given to our friend for a bridal shower I'm going to next week. She's been wanting to learn some more natural cleaning from me, so I thought I'd put this 'starter kit' together for her.

Now all I need is some more fabric, and I could make more! It'd be a great bag for keeping knitting odds and ends in, or even a beach bag, if it were bigger.. (and if there was a beach).

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

This evening I got the chance to do some things in the kitchen. I made a lasagne which is now in the fridge ready to be baked for tomorrow's dinner. I made rhubarb crumble (Nigella's recipe from Feast) with some early rhubarb from Yorkshire I got for cheap. The crumble is is cooling on the stove now. I also had time to put away the clean dishes and wash all of the newly dirty ones I created tonight.

Being able to do household tasks, particularly food-related ones, really gives me contentment. I feel confident that I am coping with life well when the flat is reasonably tidy and the food situation is not completely erratic. I do find it very difficult to keep up with domestic tasks when I work full time. Weekday evenings are notoriously bad for being able to cook a dinner as well as tidy and still feel like Joel and I get some time to talk to each other. So often, things are not as tidy or organised as I would like. However, those things are less important than building up our marriage and ensuring we are on the same page and don't feel neglected by each other. Often, we leave the housework (but probably not as often as Joel would like :-).

I was able to do so much this evening because -we had leftovers for dinner -Joel went over to Michael's this evening to get advice on fixing his bass -my evening event was cancelled.
So you can see this is not generally possible to get to accomplish so much on a weekday evening.

I consider this evening an energising break. Does that sound strange, when I spent it doing tidying, cleaning, and cooking? That is what I enjoy doing. Mostly the cooking part, although I do really enjoy washing dishes when I am not rushed and overwhelmed by lots to do.

I came across this article that I had read a couple of months ago, and thought it was worth sharing with you. It is about the value of homemaking/householding. Another excellent read is this article from Rhonda at Down to Earth (which incidentally would be my most recommended blog).

In the last couple years Joel and I have become more and more wanting to be responsibly domestically. This includes eating food we make ourselves, so we can avoid additives and get more natural flavour and nutrition; cleaning with natural ingredients like baking soda and lemon juice to we don't use unnecessary chemicals in the home; and making it recreational to cook. Incidentally, all of these things not only ensure we are healthier, but they also save money. There are loads of areas we have to improve in, mostly because we don't have time to do all the things we would like, like baking all our own bread (although that was working well for a monthish in the late winter).

The challenge we have at the moment is that both of us are 'working' in some form or another, and thus we do not have a homemaker. We hope that in the future I will be able to stay at home, and this will be a priority for us. I look forward to being able to focus more on making wise household decisions and building my skills in areas that are often forgotten these days.

I know many of you who read (women and men) are very skilled at various aspects of homemaking. Do you find contentment in it? Fulfillment? Joy?
Of course if you have any tips of easy ways to make our lives simpler and more homemade, do share!

Okay I suppose I better get started on the rhubarb crumble, seeing as Joel doesn't like rhubarb!

Update: Mm that rhubarb crumble is delicious, with custard (storebought, not homemade!) over it. I think Joel may even like this one (though he will never admit it!).

PS Grandma B, I would have used your rhubarb crisp recipe but somehow have lost it. :-)

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Up North - Banchory, Aberdeenshire

Hello friends! As you may have surmised, our lives have been very busy, and blogging hasn't been on the top of our to-do list. Sometimes we really get caught up in the actual living that we neglect sharing our lives with others. Living itself really does take quite a lot of energy, doesn't it?

We have been so grateful for spring literally blossoming around us. It's now fully light when our alarms go off, and stays light long enough for us to forget to make dinner until 7pm. Wonderful! This week has been warm, I suppose it hasn't truly been over 60 Fahrenheit, but it has ironically felt like summer (My office, however, has actually been over 80 Fahrenheit). The cherry trees are blooming, and we've enjoyed a couple of bicycle rides. There's a lovely bike path next to the River Clyde that goes to Glasgow Green, a large green park just outside the City Centre. We rode there after work earlier in the week and really enjoyed getting some sunlight and exercise.

But what I really wanted to tell you about was our journey up north last weekend. We went up to Banchory, a small town in Aberdeenshire, to visit our good friend Michaela (there she is!). Michaela is a close friend here, who we feel mutually encouraged by and truly appreciate the time we get to spend with her. She is teaching up north just now, and so we bussed up and spent the weekend with her at her parents' house, with 2 adorable boxer dogs and sunshine. It was a bit like going back into winter, as you can see. We took a hillwalk up a local hill and were surrounded by snow and cold sunlight. We also went to the sea... which we love. To live on an island surrounded by the sea, it is a shame how difficult it is to get to see broad, open sea. Ah.. peace. Contemplative harmony with the world. I love the sea.

It was wonderful to catch up with Michaela, hear how she is doing in her life, and spending lots of time outside. The photos are from our hike up the hill (the snowy ones), and our walk by the sea, in Stonehaven. The castle is Dunottar. Nice, eh?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Hebrews 6:9-20 (NASB)

But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, "I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU." And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. For men swear by one greater {than themselves,} and with them an oath {given} as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a {hope} both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Friday, March 13, 2009