Monday, 30 November 2009

It's so very nearly December!

It is nearly December 1st and I am very excited!
I ordered an advent calendar (with fairtrade chocolates in) and didn't see my friend at the weekend, so I don't have it yet.. so no chocolate windows to open for me in the morning :-(
I have plans for an advent creation, but have only made 1.

only 23 to go...
I will be busy tomorrow, or maybe I do one each day!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

It's beginning to look a bit more like Christmas!

It really is beginning to look a bit more like Christmas in my wee house!
On Thursday I went shopping with my sister. I love spending time with my big sister and we had lots of fun looking at some great ideas for Christmas decorations this year. We went to a florist wholesaler and shared the cost on some bits and pieces: cinnamon sticks, dried orange slices, pine cones. I have put some of them in a couple of square shaped glass vases for instant seasonal pot pourri effect.Simple!

I decided that to do a tree this year would be asking for trouble this year with my kitten, Tudur. He likes to leap around and has sometimes set the burglar alarm off(he is clearly a cat burglar!) I have some lovely, treasured glass baubles for my Mum and Dad's tree and my Gran's which I would love to be able to continue to use for years. I have had visions(or would that be nightmares?)of Tudur leaping and swinging from the top of a tree... So, instead of a tree, I bought a big glass cylinder and put all my glass baubles in it. I love it and it was much easier to do.
At the moment, all baubles are still intact and beautiful.
My Christmas cards have all arrived! I only ordered them as postcards the other day! VistaPrint were very quick. The printing is great so I am very pleased and impressed. I need to put them in envelopes and post them now.

My marmalade has worked, for the most part!
The fruit peel seems to have risen to the top, though, presumably that is because I poured it into the jars too quick?
I really love the funky shaped jars I got from the jam jar shop!
My big wooden spoon arrived too, so now I can make more yummies for Christmas gifts!
One of my friends suggested that the difference between marmalade and chutney is marmalade gone wrong. We'll see, Richie!

My thanksgiving meal coming soon!

Happy Thanksgiving!
I hope your Thanksgiving was good.
We girly cake chicks are planning on celebrating Thanksgiving next weekend with our husbands and other friends. Hopefully there will be 14 of us. We have been gathering ideas for our feast and are looking forward to sharing what we are each thankful for, during the evening. The UK doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving, but traditionally the church has harvest festival as a celebration in September, where we are thankful for all the produce grown that year and give food parcels to others in need. We girly chicks love food and a chance to be thankful, so we are looking forward to getting together to eat and be together. Bring on the turkey, sweet potato and pumpkin pies on Saturday 5th December!
I am really looking forward to it.
I might dress up in a posh frock and my red shoes!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

My Jam Jars Arrived! Yeah!

My Jam Jars arrived!
They were very quick. I only just ordered them over the weekend and Tada!
Here they are!
Unfortunately, I had rather too many jam jars arrive, as my order came with someone elses too! After a quick phone call, we decided that I can have the box collected tomorrow from my work and hopefully they will deliver my big wooden spoon too, they forgot to send!
I am now making marmalade - citrus marmalade is the recipe, with orange, grapefruit and lemon.
I found this lovely recipe on the internet.
900g of mixed fruits: oranges, grapefruit.
2 lemons
1.75kg sugar
1. Wash and squeeze the fruit. Put all the pips, membranes in a muslin bag and cut the peel into thin strips. (I used scissors!)
2. Put it all in the big pan with 2.25 litres water
3. bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours, or until reduced half and peel is tender. Remove muslin bag, allow bag to cool and squeeze any liquid into pan.
4. add sugar and stir til dissolved over low heart. Bring to boil 15 mins, or until setting point is reached. (It will quickly from a skin when small amount is put on a cold plate.)
5. Remove from heat and skim off any scum. Leave to cool for 5 minutes and stir to distribute the peel evenly.
6. Put into sterilised jars, cover and seal. Serve with tea and toast!

My kitchen is smelling very citrusey as this is simmering. I will let you know how it all turns out!
I am going to put them in the lovely shaped jars and save the hexagonal shaped jars for my chutneys.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Tidy, sort, glue, shopping, systems is #11 and #46!

I have many things on my Wish Upon A Star list that require me to do lots of tidying, sorting and generally clearing things out. I find it incredibly satisfying once it is done, but almost overwhelming when I need to do it.
So I put lots of the things needing sorting on my list, dividing my tidying tasks into smaller tasks.

I had a pile of artwork that was my Mum and Dads artwork, in various sketch books of various sizes and as separate pieces of work. I decided to compile it together into one big book and have now stuck it all in. Some pieces I like as art and some because they bring back so many memories.
This painting my Mum did, is of a print that used to hang in my Grandparents home when we used to visit as children.

and my Dad did lots of great pen and ink drawings.

I went shopping last week to IKEA with a friend from work and bought a few baskets to help me set up some systems, with all the existing storage things I had, for storing all my art and craft resources in my shelving. IKEA has some really funky things and is great for storage ideas. I had stuffed all my stuff, previously, in a small cupboard. It would take me ages to find all the bits I needed, so I had fun re-jigging evertything around, sorting, throwing and using my new baskets! I am very pleased that it is all now oooh aah and tidy on my shelving at last!

So I have now crossed off #11 and #46.
40 to go...

Monday, 23 November 2009

It's beginning to look a bit like Christmas!

I love Christmas for all the right reasons: sparkle, cinnamon, lots of ooh ahhs, friends, family, giving and receiving gifts and Jesus coming as Immanuel God with us.
The challenge comes with all the preparations. I have given a lot of thought into the gifts I am going to make, but I am way behind this year with some stuff.
Christmas cards.
I usually make all my own cards, usually lots of crafty stamping and fun with glitter, card, glue and embossing stuff.
I then usually send everyone a newsletter with some photos in the envelope.
This year, I have made ONE design and sent it to a company with what I want to say on the back. It will be postcard size. I have ordered a hundred and it comes with the picture in grey on the backside. I hope it works. It has saved me weeks of time in making all my cards, this year. I had loads of fun doing my design!Have fun making or printing or just writing your cards to those you know and love, far and wide this year. x
You can find the company I used here.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Today I made yummy things!

I have had a very productive day today!

First I made bread in my lovely breadmaker. Today I followed a softgrain loaf recipe and just used 1/2 white flour and 1/2 wholemeal flour instead of softgrain flour. This works and produces a soft and light loaf.

Then I made some more cupcakes!
I had some of the pudsey bear cupcake holders that Rachel gave me, left over from the cakes I made for Children in Need day on Friday. I will take them to my local church tomorrow and see if any of my friends wish to make a donation to Children in Need. For these cakes, I used a gluten free recipe from cupcake magic book.(apparently!)It was a cherry bakewell cupcake type recipe. I used ground almonds, egg whites and yolks separated and pushed a cherry into each one. I still have to ice them in the morning.Quickly.

Then I made jam.
I used an old recipe of my Mum's for apple and blackberry jam.
I used 3 lb apples, 1 and 1/2 lb blackberries, 3 lb sugar.

Tudur supervised, of course. He patiently watched the softening of the fruit, waited for the sugar to dissolve whilst I stirred it in and then seemed fascinated to see the steam rise as it boiled for 10 minutes.Test the jam is setting, by putting a small blob on a plate.(It will form almost a skin quite quickly.) Put the fruit jam quickly into sterilised jars. I use a jug to do this. Add waxed seals and seal the lids. Wipe jars and any spillages quickly with a clean cloth. This will save having a sticky kitchen. Wash the pan immediately in warm soapy water.It was enough to make 5 assorted sized jars!
I didn't have many jars and lids that matched!
I have just placed an order with this jam jar shop that sell jars! Thank you Abbie for telling me about them.

Some of these jars of jam will be some delicious Christmas gifts! Others might just be for me!

Want to join us in the unlikely places?

The other day, I shared with you how I had been reading Punk Monk and how I had been challenged to ask God to teach me in the unlikely places. I was encouraged to have an open, teachable and humble heart and to ask God to teach me as I go about my daily life: work, people, cooking, cleaning, listening to the radio etc.
It was then suggested that I write the ways God teaches me down in a journal during the week.I regularly write a journal, but it was quite refreshing to focus on the God who is omnipresent and able to speak in and through me in my normal every day life.

I was very encouraged with the ways God taught me.

It was like a breath of fresh air.

You can read my full blog post here

We have just started as a group or new girly chick cake group Journal, where we write down things that we want to pray for each other and the ways God answers our prayers. I was sharing about my unlikely places journalling experience with the girlie chicks at our weekly groovy girlie cake chick gathering on Thursday night.

They were really excited about it!

We decided to do ask God to speak to us in the unlikely places, during this next week. We will share back next week as a group, as we eat cake, the next time we meet together. I will let you know how we get on!

Maybe you have a group that you could do the same with?
You can join us too if you like!

Here is how you can join in this next week-10 days:
1. Ask God to speak to you in the unlikely places this next week.
2. Write the things God teaches you down in a journal this next week.
3. Share it here.
4. Eat some cake whilst you read other's posts!
5. Please remember to place a link to your blog post.
6. encourage others who share here too with a comment.

Have a great week in the unlikely places and I look forward to reading your posts by Monday(that's after Thanksgiving for you all in the USA)
Luci x

Friday, 20 November 2009

Children in Need Day!

Yes, it is that time of year again, where the people of the UK prove themselves to have a generous heart once again by giving to Children in Need to benefit so many charities working with children. Pudsey bear, their mascot, will feature, special shows on telly with links across the nation running into the small wee hours and people doing amazing feats to raise money. My friend Rachel got these very cute Pudsey bear cupcake holders and gave me some of them. I made 2 batches of chocolate cupcakes yesterday and took them into work today, for the staff to enjoy and to make a donation for Children in Need.I was reading this morning, this verse from Isaiah1 v 16/17: "work for justice, help the down and out, stand up for the homeless, go to bat for the defenseless."
It reminded me of some of the lyrics we used to sing and dance to on outreaches over the years in YWAM:
I will speak out for those who have no voices,
I will stand up for the rights of all the oppressed,
I will speak truth and justice,
I'll defend the poor and the needy,
I will lift up the weak in Jesus' name.
It is a great day to rmember those charities who need help and donations for them to stay functioning and to develop and grow.
Why not give something to a charity or to Children in Need today?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Remember to be thankful for unlikely places

I have been reading a book, recently, that encouraged me to ask God to teach me in unlikely places. I really love that phrase, don't you? The suggestion was to have a humble and teachable heart into each day and to be open for God to speak to us in our daily lives and to keep a journal of this for a week.
I quite liked the idea of asking God to speak to me in new and fresh and probably simple ways. So, last week, I did!
Here are some of the things I think the Lord reminded me of and taught me, based on what I wrote down at the end of each day.
I hope that it encourages you to see things in fresh ways, how God speaks in and through us in simple ways and teaches us in the unlikely places.
A bit like a breath of fresh air, really!

Please let me know if you decide to do this too and let me know what you have learned in the unlikely places too. Id love to hear.

Day 1
Girlie chick cake group night. As we shared our gifts and encouragements for Rachel for her birthday, I was reminded of the power of words - to give life - to speak words of truth and life, as we encourage each other.

Day 2
I have been blessed to read comments on my blog! I am blessed to be a blessing by encouraging and inspiring others to start their own blog too! Who would have thought?
Thank you!

Day 3
Sat chatting with my big sister, over a cuppa and she enlightened me to the significance of fig trees in the Bible. It was where people sat under them to read and study The Word of God. It was the story of Nathanael - I saw you under a fig tree. God sees and He knows. what a great way to be reminded of my desire to "sit under His shade", whilst drinking tea with my sis!

Day 4
drinking tea - again - and eating teacakes with my friend Abbie and we decided to start a girlie cake chick journal, to encourage ourselves as we look back on it, that God, faithful God, answers our prayers.

Day 5
I went for an interview! I said that some of the bright accessories they sell could act as a great mood lift and brighten any dreary rainy day! It reminded me that words of encouragements and kind words really do lift the soul. I then went out for coffee and cake with a friend. I am very thankful for my friends here. I am not isolated and I am experiencing the love of God and the gift of friendship unfolding before my very eyes. Immanuel, God with us. My coffee with cream.

Day 6
Friends coming to stay. The joy of hospitality. I really do love it and love the way that friends actually like coming to stay!

Day 7
Shopping day! I love shops and going with a friend too, for fun. I went to Liverpool too. A beautiful and special city, for me. I led an amazing outreach team there a few years ago. A city famous for the Beatles, has a history of trade, slavery, gangs, china Town, trafficking, crime as well as God's heart for the people of this city to be full of vibrant colours of life and creativity, to go into the nations. A reminder too, of how great it is to relax with friends and to enjoy coffee and being there for each other.

The book, is called Punk Monk: by Andy freeman and Pete Greig
It is about "New Monasticism and the Ancient Art of Breathing." I have loved it and will write more about other bits of the book soon.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Remember to be thankful for friends and neighbours

Today I went to see my friend Fiona. We drank tea and laughed and talked and talked about our lives, memories, lists, things that break frustratingly(she has quite a list and my washing machine is now broken),men, art, family, church, God. She generously shared her chocolate cake with me too. She is an amazingly creative and talented artist, amongst other things. I have known her and her family for ages, as we grew up in the same town, we both moved away and now we live close by again. One of the things to be thankful for less hours work in my week at the mo is time to be with friends. I am really enjoying re-connecting with Fiona now we live close by again.
If you are in the UK, Fiona is showing some of her work as part of an exhibition 21st November - 24th from 10am-4pm at Styal Lodge.
You can see Fiona's work here
Then my lovely new neighbour, Mel, called round to cut my hair! (Don't worry, she is a hairdresser!) She is also a diamond, because she is very funny and friendly. She called me last week, when my house alarm was going off... Tudur!!!!
It really was very noisy! I heard it halfway down the road. The kitten was very subdued when he appeared from behind the door. He slowly wandered off for a while, no doubt with his ears ringing!
When he returned, he was very purry and pleased! At least I now know my house alarm works! I guess that makes Tudur a cat burglar!
Earlier today.... Tudur brought in his first mouse. I was sitting having my "quiet" time, waking up and he ran in very excited. Then I realised what he had brought in!
The mouse, Tudur and I all ran around for a while!
Later, I un-packed the new china that arrived yesterday, with the money I got for selling my old Denby to china search. I was very excited! one plate is smashed, so I called the store (John Lewis)and they are sending a new plate out to me :-) Tudur, like any youngster, was far more interested in the box!
Thanks, Fiona and Mel and thanks Tudur for your well meant gift!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Remember to be thankful for Lists!

I have mixed feelings when it comes to lists. As a child, my Mum would write lists for everything. She would send me shopping with a list. Sometimes the list would read:butter. I never knew if the list was for me of for her and never felt that I should ask. Now I make lists often because I have soooo many things to do and am worried that I might forget something. The list usually seems so overwhelming! However, my favourite part is when I cross things off!
As part of Make Some Art Monday that I am doing, Chrissie is asking us to join in the blog fun by compiling a list of things to do before our next birthday.... that is the number of items corresponding to the number in years you will be next year!
That is 46 things!
My head has been spinning with ideas, fun things and all the actual things I really need to do.
I added a few things in for fun too!
This week, with a little help from Tudur, I made my list and my art:

This is My Wish Upon A Star Artwork: covered in 46 post it notes! I will peel them off as I complete each thing, to reveal the stars and some words of affirmation hidden underneath!

My 46 things for Luci to do(before my next Birthday)... my own Wish Upon A Star list
(I need lots of Fairy Dust!)

I have made a start on the list of 46 things, since my birthday was at the beginning of October :-)

1. Visit hummingbird bakery
I would love to see and taste these amazing cakes in one of their stores.

2. Sort out photos for scrapbooking.
The last few years photos are in a huge box in a mess.

3. Sort stuff in Trunk. Big mess.

4. Memory Box
My own keepsakes, need sorting through since they came out of storage.

5. Start Scrapbooking - Done! (started on Saturday. I had such fun!) :-)

6. Paint Bathroom

7. Sort and throw out old statements
I only need to keep the last 5 years.

8. Increase my working hours - Done! (was offered and accepted another part time job temporary on Friday!) I start in 2 weeks time. yippee! :-)

9. Find new and fulfilling job.
Need to find something new, as current jobs are temporary contracts.

10. Start A Blog - Done! (started in October and loving it!) :-)

11. Mum and Dad Artwork.
I have a selection of some of my parents artwork. It is in a pile of sketchbooks and pieces, which i want to put together in one memory book of the artwork I have.

12. Make blind for Kitchen.

13. Tidy paperwork on desk.
I have "adopted" my Dad's stack system: piles of paperwork.
Have realised that piles = mess. Need to have order on my desk.

14.Sort Teaching box into files and chuck out the unwanted paper for recycling.

15.Investigate loft/attic conversion.
Next door have done it, but need to find out building regulations, cost, planning permission, staircase, window, architect, builder etc. I would love a separate workroom / office space.

16. Make some leaf Art.
Need to hurry to do this, before all the leaves turn to slush with all the rain we keep having here.

17. Do a course.

18. Visit friends in Scotland.

19. Write child/youth curriculum.
Started this pre-teen curriculum years ago, when I was in YWAM, but would love to continue it, with the next 2 booklets.

20. Scrapbook existing photos.
Old albums done with the old peel adhessive, which are falling to pieces.

21. Put nice photos in photo frames.

22. Wear a nice dress to a nice occassion.

23. Start swimming again.
havent been this year as had post viral fatigue. I miss it.

24. Girly Shopping Day in a lovely city.

25. Jump in some Puddles. (in my wellies)

26. Get a dog. (maybe)

27. Eat in a lovely Restaurant.

28. Discover more about my family roots.

29. Sort, recycle, file child and youth box of stuff.

30. Go for a picnic - at the zoo!

31. Go and see a play.

32. Go and see some live music.

33. Write messy church Stuff down, maybe as a blog?
Need to chat with minister and see how is best to pas on the creative ways we have been doing all age services each month.

34. New Relationships.

35. Travel somewhere on a plane.

36. Write down storytelling/circle time stuff done in the last few years and is in notes.

37. Ditch Denby and buy new china I like. Done! Sent old denby to china search last month and new stuff arrived today! Joy! :-)

38. Holiday

39. Sort through Memorabilia of Mum and Dad.
Need to do this with my sister. It is a work in progress.

40. Play in the snow

41. Have a Spa Day - facial, nails - relax.

42. Direction for this new season.
Last year, the Lord said to me change. I am praying about what is next for me.

43. Have a Massage.

44. Explore possibilities - the word the lord gave me was enlarge - house, ministry, friends, family... what does this mean for me and how.

45. 6 x boxes of Junk. Clear out, throw out, give away, keep a little.

46. New system for craft stuff. Tidy and organise, or I can't find what I need/want.

Now to tackle the other 42 things on the list....

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Remember to be thankful for Sundays!

I love Sundays! I get to take my coffee back to bed with me and read in bed and pray before I get up and go to church. I love my local church and it is a real blessing to me. 2ish years ago, I didn't have many friends here having recently moved here and the church I had begun attending, was leaving me feeling isolated. After a lot of prayer, I decided to move churches and felt welcomed straight away. A few friends I had begun to make went there too, so I gradually and slowly began making great friendships. A few of us girlie's began meeting together and formed the groovy girlie cake chicks.
We meet once a week, pray spontaneously, laugh, eat cake, drink coffee or tea, are brutally honest and open with each other, so sometimes we cry together too. Sometimes we celebrate special occasions, eat big lunches with the men invited and extra special girly friends. We are also working on a bit of a project: to re-do the church banners. Great huge things, we are using textures and coloured fabrics, ribbon and buttons and sparkly things. It is taking us ages and I am sure I will tell you more, sometime. The vision we have for it is that Jesus, in His great love for us, takes all the brokenness and mess that we as individuals are. He puts us together and brings us into relationships with each other. We become interwoven, entwined, joined together and Father God, in His infinite wisdom, creates something beautiful.
We call it church.
I love my friends, who are part of my local church, the groovy girlie cake chicks.
They have journeyed with me a lot this last year and prayed and laughed and cried faithfully with me.
Thank you God for my friends and for answering one of my heart cry prayers for some friends here, where I live.
As some of you know, I have just begun following Make Some Art Mondays. I am way behind, as they were into week 3 when I found her blog last week. One of the weeks ideas was to make some art on the theme of "quotes".
Here is what I did, in honour of the "girly chicks". I finished it today, whilst relaxing in front of the telly this afternoon!
I made a table cloth with woven paper and covered it with tissue paper and mod podge glue. I made a mountain of cupcakes, one for each of the groovy girlie cake chicks, with: paint, paper, felt pens and pastels and sparkly bits! I added an envelope I made with a Thank You note to God for them. I then threaded some raffia through the top and added some diamond paper shapes, folded and glued to form bunting. (As girly chicks we love bunting!) I added the quote around the edge.

My quote is this: " Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer.I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God's Message, from the day you have heard it right up to the present." Philippians 1 v 3-5 The Message.
I am now working on the presentation of my list of things to do for the make some art monday tomorrow!
Why don't you join in?

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Remember to be thankful for today!

Today, I did it!
I actually did it.
I finally entered the world of scrap booking.
To be honest, it has been a long time coming. It has been in my head and my intentions for sometime. I have had a pile of scrap booking paper and an album since my last visit to the USA.... 2 years ago... oops.
I've even watched many of my friends from America do scrap booking and looked and admired their albums for several years previously, particularly during my YWAM years, so it isn't that scrap booking is new to me as a concept.
I didn't join in back then, as for years it was quite hard to get hold of the stuff here in the UK and most of my old family photos were packed away in boxes in storage.
My niece now lives in Boston, USA and got into scrap booking in a big way and so on my last visit to see her, 2 years ago, I went along to one of her crops. It was lots of fun and I even enjoyed helping Rachel make some of her pages. She even gave me a load of stuff and we bought a few bits, so that I could start scrap booking myself.
I came home, unpacked everything, put it on a shelf... and the stuff stayed in a pile.
Waiting for me to start.
So, this last year or so I have got to know my friend Rachel, who is wonderful scrapbooker. She has shown me lots of her stuff and puts some of it on her blog too. Anyway, she told me that some of the ladies from church gather once a month for a day to scrapbook. As this is the UK, they call it a scrapbook "group" and not a "crop". I have been ill this year and so mustering the energy to go and join in with them has taken me a while....
Then a couple of weeks ago, I heard that the next scrap booking group day was to be today.
So I went today.
Today I entered the world of scrap booking.
I have finally started my very own scrap booking album.
I had such fun.
My first 4 pages done.
Thank you friends for today.
Thank you for your encouragement, for sharing your scrap booking and helping me get started.
Today has been a great day!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Remember to be thankful for cupcakes!

I made cupcakes! I borrowed Abbie's piping bags and nozzles. Much, much easier than a plastic bag witha hole in it!
These cupcakes are nicknamed bleach cupcakes, beacuse they are made with white chocolate.
I had wanted to make a white chocolate cake some months ago, but was stuck in my head because choclate cake is made with cocoa powder and you cant get white chocolate powder in the UK.... So, I asked my big sister for ideas. After all, big sisters know everything, right?
you can imagine my surprise, when in answer to my question about how to make white chocolate cake, she said:"Use bleach."
There was a slight pause, where I thought: my normally very sensible big sister has lost the plot. Then she giggled and said:"Well, it would act as a slight deterrant if you told all your girlie cake chicks that it was bleach cake."
So, I took matters into my own hands and made white chocolate cake, using melted white chocolate in the cake mixture and in the buttercream. I sprinkled white chocolate chips on the top for extra sparkle.
I called the cake: "bleach cake", but it mught have equally have been called:" gone in 60 seconds" as it was very popular.

Last week, my friend Abbie asked if she could request bleach cake again.
I decided to try the same bleach cake idea, but make them as cupcakes instead.
The recipe is from cupcake magic. Her top tips are:
1. sift the flour and sugar for the cake mix
2. rest the nozzle and icing bag in a mug ! brilliant!
110g/4oz/1 cup SR flour
110g/4oz/1 cup C sugar
110g/4oz/1/2 cup butter,softened
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
I added:
1/2 bar melted white chocolate
for the buttercream:
225g/8oz/1 and 1/2 cups icing sugar
100g/3 and 1/2 oz/ 1/2 cup butter
I added:
1/2 bar melted white chocolate
I then sprinkled a few white chocolate chips all over them.
Last night the groovy girlie chicks had bleach cupcakes.
Thanks Abbie for the loan of the piping bags and nozzles.
Can I borrow them again, please?

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Remember to be thankful for encouragements!

Last week at girlie cake chicks we tried to encourage Rachel, as it was her birthday! Here is how we did it:
1. During the week, we each prayed for Rachel and asked God to remind us of a quality,skill, talent or gift that we have seen and loved in her and that we appreciate her for.
2. We then thought of a verse form the Bible to go with this.(God is a really big help here too, in helping us find just the right verse!)
3. Then we thought of a gift to help illustrate this for her - it could be handmade, shop bought or something that we already had that we could give to her.
4. We then wrote out the verse on a funky card and wrapped the gift and brought it along to our girlie chick cake group!
5. We had loads of fun watching her open her gifts in turn and reading out the encouragements we had for her.
She was really encouraged, but she did also cry too!
It is such a blessing to encourage others in really fun and creative ways.
Sometimes we put all the gifts together, individually wrapped in between layers to make a really big parcel and pass it round, listening to music. When the music stops, you take off a layer to reveal each prize/gift/parcel. In England, this would typically be a childhood game called pass the parcel!
We, as groovy girlie cake chicks, love it!
Last week, to save time in wrapping, we each brought separate gifts for Rachel to unwrap.
Here are some of the things we gave her and the encouragements. I hope it inspires you to encourage someone today in a creative and fun way!

The chocolate lollipop and some tulip bulbs to plant went with this:Ephesians 3:16-19Prayer for an ever growing faith and that Rach would remain firmly rooted in the love and knowledge of Jesus because it is what really really makes her special and cherished. And she is a fab, loving and faithful woman of God.
The funky red mug went with an encouragement for Rachel to continue finding quality time, just for her - especially she just had her 2nd baby a few weeks ago!
My encouragement to Rachel was Daniel 12 v 3 about being a star, because she is!!!
she has so many pearls of wisdom for us,in such a natural and non-bossy way! So my prayer for her is to continue to grow in righteousness and wisdom.
Who will you encourage today?
enjoy being blessed to be a blessing to someone else today x

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Remember to be thankful for shopping days!

I went shopping with Ruth today! I work part time, currently, so after I finished work I met up with Ruth and we went on the train to the shops!
I was treated to lunch and my train ticket, as she said I was blessing her with a place to stay this week!
I bought a very girlie and pretty new handbag!
Guess which colour it is?
We had coffee too.
I had the cheque from china search arrive last week for my old dinner set, so I bought some new plates and the all important butter dish with a lid.
Tudur loves butter and gets it whenever he can, so a butter dish with a lid is an absolute must in this household!
I got the plates from john Lewis and they are delivering it to me in a few days time as we both thought that carrying new plates on a train might be too much of a smashing time for our shopping day.
We slept on the train journey home.
A wonderful day.I love shopping! Job interview tomorrow... Here is what I bought...
Did you guess right?

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Remember to be thankful for quality time

I wonder what your language of love is? If you have no idea what I am on about, then maybe check out Gary Chapman - he has written several books about this topic, the 5 Love Languages, where he helps people work out their primary Love Languages - the Languages we speak - to give and receive love.
There are 5 love languages - gifts, words of affirmation, touch, quality time, acts of service.
I wonder which language of love you speak?
One of my Love Languages is Quality Time. I love spending time with my friends.
It is quite the week for it, so I am loving it! :-)
My friend Louise came to stay last week. She is very creative with writing words amongst other lovely gifts she has. She was one of our groovy girlie cake chicks last year, but has sadly moved away. She came to stay last week and it was lovely to spend some time with her and to have her visit the girlie chicks too.
This week sees the return of another girlie chick, Ruth, who arrived today. We shared some laughs and a cuppa, before walking into town to go for coffee and cake!
One of my very favourite things to do.
Tonight we are going round to visit one of the other girlie chicks, Abbie! She is fab and very very creative too as well as being a lovely and gracious person to be around. She has recently moved house from a tiny flat, so Ruth can't wait to see how the house is taking shape.
She loved it :-)

Monday, 9 November 2009

Remember to be thankful for Monday!

So, over the weekend I found a new and inspiring blog - in His Grace - Chrissie is asking others who are arty and creative, or who would like to have a go at finding and developing their creative gifts to join her in "Make some Art Monday!" series. It looked really fun, with some amazing and creative people already taking part. Some seem to be professional!
It started a few weeks ago, it seems, so I am a bit behind! She has given people ideas for what to do each week or just to do anything you like. People then send a link to their blogs with their art for the week I haven't done much art at all for ages, but have often thought of getting my creative arty farty creative juices going again, especially after being ill with post viral fatigue - but it has taken me a while to get my energy levels and inspiration to connect!
Thanks, Chrissie, for your blog and for the inspiration to join in.
The theme for this week, is artists. Well, I had my idea of what I wanted to do first, which was Poppies because they are quite close to my heart as it is Remembrance week this week, so I then found an artist who painted poppies - Lexi Sundell, who has done some amazing poppies - and found lots of further inspiration for my own poppies creation for today.

I did a wax relief watercolour wash as a background and then had fun painting some poppies with acrylic paint and made some out of paper, a mixture of crepe paper and coloured glittery card that I tore out. I stuck these on to the watercolour background and then stuck on black buttons for the funky centres. So,join us on a Monday and make some art!
Look at Chrissie's blog for details and let me know how you get on!
I have really enjoyed it, especially after going to an interview today!
Thank you Chrissie!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Remember to be thankful for red shoes!

I am sitting here watching the movie: "the Wizard of Oz" as it celebrates it's birthday. Apparently the ruby shoes are valued at $3million. My red shoes cost considerably less, but they do hold a precious significance for me. I bought them at the beginning of the year, for a friend's birthday party I was attending. The Lord had been speaking to me at that time about how I saw myself, how others see me and most importantly how He sees me. He reminded me that I am beautiful on the inside and out to Him, which was a very precious thing for me to be reminded of. At the time, I had begun getting to know a guy who was full of words and promises, a bit like a rainbow it seemed and I thought I was beginning to travel along my own yellow brick road, full of hope and expectation. The guy quickly turned out to be a liar and a cheat and it all ended before it began, thankfully. However, the truth of how God saw me and continues to see me is still true. On my shopping trip for my shoes, I found my amazing and beautiful red shoes with the label:"gorgeous"at a very very affordable price! I laughed out loud when I found them. I just had to buy them. The bonus is, of course, that they say gorgeous in both feet too! What a fabulous reminder for me, when I wear them, that God says I am loved, accepted, special and unique. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. He gives me hope with His promises in His own rainbows and leads me on my very own yellow brick road. An amazing adventure in itself!
So, if you watch the movie or the next time you see a rainbow or buy a pair of red shoes, think on these things. I do. I love my red shoes!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Remember to be thankful for a gift!

When Rachel, one of my girly cake chick friends, had her birthday this week we decided to encourage her with a card expressing either the qualities we see and enjoy in her or a verse from the Bible. We decided that we would give her a gift that could be bought or handmade or something we already have that we wanted to give her, preferably connected in some way to the encouraging words we had for her!
Choosing the gift for her was the easy part,for me.
Bread. I would make bread.
Rachel recently and generously gave me her bread maker and I just love it. Everyone did laugh, however, when I made my first loaf: chocolate bread!
So I made chocolate bread for Rachel, with chocolate chips! Yummy. (Her 2 year old son thinks I am very clever to make chocolate bread!)
Simple: I followed a recipe!
There are loads of bread recipes to find on the Internet, just follow your own manufacturers guidelines for the order you put the ingredients in the pan.
Here is the basic recipe I use... and then a Luci adaptation for chocolate Mocha bread that is also proving popular.
chocolate bread recipe for 1 1/2 lb loaf:
1 cup water
1 egg beaten
1 tbsp skimmed milk powder
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
2 1/8 cups strong white flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp dry yeast
add 1/4 cup chocolate chips, part way through the cycle - my machine goes beep!!!

For the creative Luci adaptation.... Chocolate Mocha bread:
replace strong coffee for water. I use strong coffee from my cafetiere.

I wrapped the bread once cool, in parchment/greaseproof paper and then brown paper, tied it up with string and put it in a used gift bag I had. The gift bag had the name of the store on it, so I tore 2 strips of gift wrap and stuck it on the 2 edges of the bag. a great way to re-cycle those lovely paper gift bags from shopping trips!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Remember to be thankful for gracious giggles!

So, I did my first attempt at piping icing... well, I cut a hole in a plastic bag!
The idea, of course was to make some fantastically artistically created cupcakes.
I did the first cake. it was supposed to be a heart shape, but the snip I made with the scissors was huge, so the icing heart came out as a rather large blob.
I then re-did a plastic bag, but then my skills of trailing the icing all over the cupcakes became quite the challenge for me.It really was a sight to behold.
I think I need to do this many many more times to get them looking anything like the pictures in the magic cupcake book I had as my inspiration.
then the groovy girly cake chicks arrived.
The moment of truth had come.
They said wow and giggled and then played the guess the shape Luci was trying to do. They were full of gracious giggles, it has to be said.
They chose the best, the hearts, flowers and stars and then decided that the rest all looked rather like fireworks.Firework cupcakes they are then.
They liked the purple icing and the gold I used.
The verdict was: Delicious.
I love my gracious giggling friends!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Remember to be thankful for remembering!

Well, it is the 5th November! Here in the UK it is still celebrated with fireworks, bonfires, sparklers, rockets, Catherine wheels, sausages, candy floss, coconut ice, hot potatoes, roast chestnuts, lanterns... to name some of the traditions...
For me though, it is not the political remembering of the 5th of November that conjours up so many memories, but more that I can remember my childhood home. A place where i loved growing up for so many reasons.
It was a special place because it was reputed to be the house where The Conspirators met to plan the blowing up of Parliament in 1605. The house was then a coaching inn, on the main highway to London. The legend is, that the Conspirators stayed at the inn on the night of the Gunpowder Plot, awaiting news of their plot. However, history tells us that they got news that Guy Fawkes had been caught red-handed and so they all scattered and were later all caught and tortured. Guy Fawkes was hung, drawn and quartered for carrying out his scheme. By the 20th century, the old coaching inn was a rambling old house, where we as a family lived. The only evidence of the past history was that the house was named after Guy, had a plaque telling of the story and often we would have people come to re-tell the story, as well as visitors wanting to hear a tale or two! The most memorable stories would be these: A young boy walking into the kitchen and meeting my Grandad, for the first time and asking him " are you Guy Fawkes?" Then there was the time the local TV station came to do a film about the story of Bonfire Night. My Dad was so cross that it took them all day to film and in his opinion was a pretty poor show, and the props department came with a black sphere labelled "bomb" and to his utter dismay, they used coconut shells to mimic the sound of horses hooves, followed by the presenter being shadowed in a cloud of smoke with a big bang. The big bang was the bit that most dismayed my Dad! It left behind a rather large dark patch on his green grass lawn. Oh dear. as a keen gardener, this was almost un-forgivable! He was not happy, but we all couldn't help laughing as we watched it on the telly! The story that went down in our family history was of my parents hosting a big bonfire party for all the local children and families. Dad dressed up as a "guy", and hid in the bonfire on step ladders, waiting to leap out from the fire as it was lit! The ladder collapsed, but he did get out completely un-harmed. It was one of those, I can't believe my parents did that stories! For Mum and Dad, the ultimate pranksters, my Dad, the slightly mad professor, it was just one of those things they did....However, this should not ever be attempted, of course!
Most years, we would light a few rockets in milk bottles, lined up on the wall and watch them light the sky or go to the larger and more organised bonfire night celebrations with the more spectacular fireworks to go ooh ahh to!
So, whatever you do this Bonfire night, Fireworks night,be safe and I leave you with the famous poem:
Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder treason and plot,
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Remember to be thankful for cupcake ideas!

Well, Thursday is fast approaching and the groovy girlie cake chicks will be looking forward to cakes tomorrow evening.I am certain of it. Especially, as we are celebrating Rachel's birthday and a visit from an old girly cake chick, Louise, this week. So, I have begun making some cupcakes! (I won't spoil the surprise here, though,just yet!) My friend Abbie, gave me a fabulous cupcake recipe book for my birthday, called "Cupcake Magic" by Kate Shirazi,which is full of inspiring ideas. You can get her book online and each book bought includes a donation to the Battery Hen Welfare Trust! How cool is that! She has battery rescue hens - I would love that! The basic cupcake recipe couldn't be easier, has helpful tips and is given in measuring in cup or scales options!
Peasy! I love the way she talks about "plonking" heaped teaspoons of the mixture into the cupcake cases. I also found a fab website the other day and ordered some funky cupcake cases, more to be seen....later.
Meanwhile, check out for the magic cupcake book and how to order cakes directly and for funky cupcake cases and other lovely crafty things!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Remember to be thankful for birthdays

I love birthdays!
As a child, cards would appear as if by magic in a pile with presents at the breakfast table, when I went downstairs bleary eyed at the start of a new day.
My birthday. I gradually realised, over the years, that my parents had been secretly squirreling the cards away from the pile of post arriving each day for the preceding days and weeks before my big day. Cards were then ceremoniously opened, read, admired and shared, before being put on the shelf on the kitchen for all visitors to admire. They were then left up on display in the kitchen until the next member of the family had a birthday. My Mum then stuck all my cards into a big scrapbook, which I still have, until my teenage years. As an adult, I now save all the obvious looking cards and packages until the big day and it is always very special to open them on my birthday. This year, I got a somewhat surprising amount of birthday cards featuring cats! Some things never change!
I am thankful for my birthday, for my Mother who chose to give me life and for my amazing family and friends who I celebrate my birthday with each year. A few years ago a friend told me that Psalm 139 is known as the birthday Psalm in his family.They would sit and light a birthdya candle and then read this together. Since he told me of this, I now especially read this Psalm on my birthday too. Thanks, Wade. But today is not my birthday. It is my friend Rachel's.
Happy Birthday Rachel!
Thank you for being my friend and I really hope you enjoy your special day. I wonder how you will celebrate your day? I expect that we, groovy girlie cake chicks, will hear about your day on Thursday? Hope so.
Jen, me and Rachel, the birthday girl!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Remember to be thankful for chocolate

On Thursday evenings, my friends gather. We call ourselves the groovy girlie cake chicks. We laugh til we cry, drink coffee and eat cake. We are brutally open with each other, without demanding it. It just seems to happen. We often spontaneously pray for each other too. On Thursday night last week, my friend Abbie turned up with this enormous box of chocolates.
I love chocolate.
We ate most of them.
Abbie had had a hard week.
An ideal opportunity to be with friends and eat chocolate.
I am very thankful for chocolate and my friends.

Remember to be thankful for sunshine moments

I have a throat that feels like sandpaper and a cough that scares the cat. So, it has been a few days indoors for me, taking it easy and resting.
November. The time to Remember. The time to be thankful. I am thankful for the sunshine moments in my life. Too many to list, perhaps, but here is one to share with you. My baby great niece has just started taking her first steps and recently turned 1. When I saw her on Friday, she waited until her brothers and sisters left the room, got up and with purposeful determination walked full circle around the room and landed in my lap and grinned. My sunshine moment. I am very thankful to her that she shared that with me. What are some of your sunshine moments to be thankful for, I wonder?