Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011 in Review.

Now seems to be the ideal time to reflect back on the previous year as I am making my Resolutions for the New Year. Christmas is over and my week off work is almost over too. I have been feeling quite introspective recently, probably a combination of the time of year and being ill. This gave me more time than usual to just think about what I have learnt and achieved and which aims for the past year I didn't meet and also how to take these lessons into the future so I can progress even more in the coming year. 

I have had some successes and some failures with my Resolutions! As I expected really as I am not perfect (not by a long shot) and life sometimes gets in the way. I set my Resolutions and in a perfect and ordered world I would achieve them all. The thing is that life gets complicated and other things become priorities so it is then a case of what matters more. 

Last Year's Resolutions in Review. 

1, I aimed to spend more time reading my Bible and I have! I read much more often now and am signed up for a second session of GMG for the new year. I think this has really helped me to be stronger in my faith and I am so much more open about it now. Even around non-believers which was something quite scary to me this time last year. I still need to do more though and aim to read most days!

2, I have made various starts at a healthier lifestyle during the past year but not on a long term basis. It seems like I start off really well then something stressful happens or I get busy and I end up back where I started! I need to form life long habit. Back on the list!

3, Budgeting has been a bit of a half failure / half success. I buy a lot less for emotional reasons and to cheer myself up and am much more aware of my feelings and how to deal with them constructively. I still don't have a proper grown up budget though. I think that will have to go on the list for next year! 

4, Appearance ..... well, I haven't done all that well with this one! Not that I wander about looking like a scruff but I could do so much more. I think I need a set routine in the next year! 

5, I have loved learning about home making this year and intend to keep on next year. Both expanding on what I have learnt and delving into new topics! I find that I enjoy all the home related tasks even those, like cleaning and ironing, that I found quite dull before. It seems like the more effort I put in, the more satisfaction there is when the job is done. 

6, My Hope Chest is such a valuable resource to me! It is where my books, CDs, DVDs and magazines relating to faith, character, home making, femininity and everything else are kept. I love having it all in one place as it is so easy to refer to and if I need a little motivation I know the perfect resource is right there. I intend to keep adding to this as well as trimming out anything that needs replacing or updating. To me, it won't be a static thing - it will keep on evolving as I do. 

7, This was my blogging Resolution! I have been blogging for just over a year now and the appeal certainly hasn't worn off. I have met some lovely people through my blog and those that I read and have recommended to me. I have learnt so much! I was worried when I started writing here that after a couple of months I would just give up but I find that I am enjoying writing and posting photographs here far more than I ever imagined! Looking back at the blog stats the most popular posts of the year have been the two giveaways, my hope chest and a daughter at home

2011 has been an interesting year with plenty of ups and downs. Lots of opportunities for growth and learning too. I am looking forward to next year and want to make it even better!

Do you make Resolutions? I am aiming to have some for the full year and others that have a target start of a certain month. Nice and organised! I am sure that better organisation will be on the list! 



Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

Isaiah 9 : 6

Be near me, Lord Jesus, 
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
and love me I pray. 

From Away in a Manger. 

I pray that you and your families have a blessed Christmas!



Friday, 23 December 2011

Winter Sunrise.

It is raining outside and the clouds are grey. It is still quite mild though, not much chance of a white Christmas here! 

I took these photographs this morning. The sky looked so lovely that I just had to run and get my camera. I was so grateful for the opportunity as, due to the time I leave the house each morning and return after work, I hardly get any time to take photographs in natural light. 

Luckily, I have today off work as I still have rather a lot left to do for Christmas! The mince pies are in the oven, the Christmas cake just needs decorations adding, a couple of gifts still need to be wrapped and I have one scarf left to finish. Then I am all organised! I hope to sit down at some point and get all cosy with candles and a knitted throw to watch The Nativity. 

I am determined to be more organised next year, especially with my crafting! 



Saturday, 17 December 2011


When you have once seen the glow of happiness on the face of a beloved person, you know that a man can have no vocation but to awaken that light on the faces surrounding him; and you are torn by the thought of the unhappiness and night you cast, by the mere fact of living, in the hearts you encounter. 

Albert Camus. 



Monday, 12 December 2011

New Books to Read.

I have two new books to read! I am excited as I love reading and it is probably my favourite thing to do. I love to learn too so reading books that introduce me to new topics and expand my knowledge are wonderful. I don't ever want to stop learning or to get stuck with a narrow view of the world. 

At the moment I am trying to learn more about God's plan for women and their role in life. I have already made a fair start on learning about home making and various skills relating to that but I have a tendency to get caught up in the fluffy stuff and to spend less time than I need working on my character. Especially as I don't really have much Titus 2 guidance available to me! As much as I love the sewing and baking, the character development is just as important. Harder though and more thought and effort is needed. Plus a good deal of honesty in facing up to personality issues and being willing to change them. 

This first book really appealed to me. I hadn't heard of it before seeing it on a book website but it sounded like a good read. 

From the back of the book - " With humility and humor, Sara set out to immerse herself in all things domestic just to see if the Proverbs 31 woman could exist in the twenty-first century." I enjoy reading about other people and their experiences in life so this book combined two of my interests - people and home making. 

The second book is probably more well known. I had heard of it and read many mixed reviews. I thought it was high time that I read it myself and formed my own opinions about it. 

From the back cover - "Somewhere over the passing years and changing culture, women have lost their way. This book is written to lead them back home." I think this should be an interesting book and I am hoping to learn from it. Flicking through it, I like how the book is set out and that so many letters from readers are included. I also want to find out just why it splits opinions so widely. 

When I finish reading these books, whenever that will be, I plan on reviewing them on here. I am looking forward to that too. Almost like a book study from my school days although on slightly different topics! 

Have you read any books that you would recommend to others? 



Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Ice Cream Inspired Cupcakes.

I am in a cupcake baking mood at the moment! They are such fun to experiment with. Colours, flavours and decoration!

I have made cupcakes inspired by the '99' ice creams. 

Ingredients for the sponge

175g (6oz) butter or soft margarine
175g (6oz) caster sugar
3 free range eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g (5 1/2oz) self-raising flour
55g (2oz) ground almonds

Ingredients for the buttercream

225g (8oz) butter or soft margarine
1 tbsp milk
350g (12oz) icing sugar

To decorate

8 mini chocolate flakes
hundreds and thousands

1, Set the oven to a medium heat (gas mark 4) so it heats while you are preparing the ingredients. Place 8 paper cases into a muffin tray. 

2, Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. I did this by hand (took quite a while!) but you can use an electric whisk if you prefer. Gradually beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. 

3, Sift (important!) in the flour and add the almonds and fold gently into the mixture using a metal spoon. 

4, Spoon the mixture into the paper cases. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until they have risen and have a lovely golden brown colour. Remove from the muffin tray and leave until cool on a wire rack. 

5, To make the buttercream, place the butter in a bowl and beat until pale and creamy. Again, I did this by hand but it took a long time and I had to keep switching which arm I was using to stir! Beat in the milk and then sift the icing sugar in a bit at a time. Continue until the butter cream is light and fluffy. 

6, Spoon the buttercream into a large piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. Pipe swirls of buttercream onto each cupcake to resemble ice cream. Press a chocolate flake into each swirl and sprinkle with hundreds and thousands to finish. 

These went down very well and they are so sweet and light! Plus they look adorable and very effective. When I try these again I will put more buttercream on each cupcake. By the last one I was just getting the hang of perfecting the swirls! 



Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Winner is ....

Thank you to everyone that entered the giveaway! It was so much fun and exciting to see all the comments. 

There were more entries on this giveaway than on the previous one so I am thrilled as I was hoping to match last time. Once again I used the random number generator to pick the winner. 

So, without further ado, the winner is .......

Comment 2 - Jacinda @ Growing Home! 

Please contact me to arrange the delivery of your prize! I will arrange for the book to be posted off and will start your magazine subscription. I hope you love them!

Thank you to everyone who entered - I love giveaways so keep an eye out for more in the future!