Friday, 20 January 2012

Quick Takes Volume 10: The Apron Edition*

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 151)


That Jennifer Fulwiler! Not only has she got me using a Template....this week I've gone Apron Mad!


Do you remember Jen's article in the Register where she came up with the amazing invention of a garment to keep our clothes clean during our daily toil....and then realised that it had already been invented?. I laughed heartily at this, looked wistfully at the 2 functional, oversized and, let's face it, gender- neutral, aprons I had, and sighed.

Did you know that I won one of those aprons in a Twitter competition hosted by the chef Jamie Oliver? Who also follows me on Twitter because I won the weekly competition? (Just sayin'.)


Did you know that like us Jamie Oliver ALSO has two big girls close together in age, then a gap, then another girl, like we do (and has since gone on to have a baby boy, which may or not be on the cards for us, I have no way of knowing at this time!)


Anyway, I digress. We're doing aprons. Now then, before I moved house, my dear mother-in-law tried to gift me with a recipe book she had purchased from a Marie Curie Cancer Care charity event. Ever ungrateful, I handed it back (I was moving house! I wanted to declutter, not spread out!) - so she thoughtfully wrapped it up for me to open on Christmas Day. The salient part here is the fascinating panel towards the end of the recipe book which contains the 'poem', "Grandma's Apron". And I quote:
The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath, because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven. It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears. From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven. When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.. And when the weather was cold Grandma wrapped it around her arms. Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove. Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron. From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls. In the autumn, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees. When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds. When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner. It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes. They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron!
I see this has been reproduced on more than a few blogs over time and I'd be happy to copyright it if I knew where it originated from.  

Inspired by the stuff Jen said, and the slices of loveliness served up by Hallie Lord and her personal shopping service, and the fact that finally, finally, I purchased some pieces of clothing for myself last week when the children weren't around, and I felt so good about them, I found this website and ordered myself a new apron.


Adult Apron - Cotton - Cherries Betty

Ta-da!!! Yes, I am now a proud owner of one of these from The Apron Store, and it has made me very, very, happy! And can I just say - I had NO IDEA how many lovely aprons were available from just one shop (and they have not paid me to say any of this!)

* with thanks to Jen Fulwiler @ for hosting - head over there now and read a whole load of other Quick Takes!

Monday, 16 January 2012

The Happiness Index

On the radio today I heard that our UK Government wishes to introduce a way of measuring the wellbeing of the population, to ensure people are getting what they need. Various comments were made about this, including what a good move it was to measure things in terms of mental wellbeing as well as income ...and also that it was completely ridiculous, as what makes people happy can vary widely from person to person.

It strikes me that there is a lacuna between wellbeing and happiness, but in the discussion people were using them interchangeably today, as if they are the same thing. Are they really? My wellbeing is measured by home comforts, the welfare of my children, square meals and if I've helped out a person in my job that day. Or, I think it is. Can we really measure what makes us feel secure and comforted? And is that what makes me happy? It seems that people are chasing happiness at every chance, in a bar of chocolate, at the bottom of a bottle, in that 'perfect' figure or the man of their dreams. What we think makes us happy often eludes a questionnaire going to help us understand?

Wellbeing, as I properly understand it, means quality of life. This can mean good health, education, and other aspects not necessarily associated with a higher income, including leisure time and pursuits. How many times have I thought the grass is greener for those without three children to chase after....those who 'only' have to deal with the working world and be responsible for themselves...those who don't get to have children to enjoy. While I prize my leisure time (especially that used watching Series 2 of Downton Abbey!) it's the graft that gives me rewards. And I think it's the same for most people, but it's not easy to realise or quantify.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for moments of true joy breaking through. Music, children's laughter, the delight in a plot twist, laughter at a funny story - I experience happiness at a sublime level through these. But is the Government going to bring me these? Or are they going to be part of a life beset with a few troubles, with myriad twists and turns, brief punctuations of ecstasy in an otherwise ordinary existence? And would it so bad if they were all I had?

And to equate this with 'Happiness' -it may be too big a leap. Contentment, joy, security and recreation are different aspects of our mental and physical wellbeing. Striving to be happy, focusing too much on the objective, can often lead us away from it. Christianity, by contrast, points us away from the self, to the needs of others, whom we serve as best we are able, and suddenly find we are made happy. Yes, there is a requirement that we feel okay before we start - we need to take care of ourselves before we are in any position to look after others. But I could spend years chasing after something to make me happy, for self-fulfilment even, without ever getting anywhere near achieving it, when it is just within arm's reach. Oh, wait a minute - I actually *did*. Thank God I opened my eyes.

Happily (?), I now have to switch my attention to my online grocery delivery and think about this topic when I'm less tired. After all, as that great fount of all that is verifiable, Wikipedia, says, "Happiness is a Fuzzy Concept." I'm looking forward to reading what the newspapers say on this one....not least on whether they think the role of Government should be involved in anything like this, let alone spending taxpayers' money on  assessing wellbeing.

Friday, 13 January 2012

7 Quick Takes Volume 9*

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 151)


I am writing this Quick Takes on a Wednesday. Because during the past few weeks we have had Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, a house move and a bout of #SpecialPoorlyWomanFlu for me. Which are probably only a few of the reasons why I haven't blogged, but ultimately, I haven't been blogging, and I would like to. SO I figure out if I start today, by Friday, I might even be finished!

Safe in our new home for Christmas, yay!


Jennifer Fulwiler has a lot to answer for. Not only have I used a Quick Takes template to write this post, but I am definitely considering getting a Kindle, after being a naysayer for so long. (My husband says he was going to get me one for Christmas, but instead I asked for a subscription to Church Times - the UK's leading weekly Anglican newspaper, don't you know.)


A pleasant bonus from my Church Times subscription was The Celtic Way of Prayer, by Esther de Waal.  It's subtitle is 'The Recovery of the Religious Imagination' - isn't that beautiful? Pieces of it remind of the way of prayer visited in God's Whisper in a Mother's Chaos: Bring Peace Home (another lovely subtitle...oh and did you see that I linked to the Kindle edition???) and Angela Ashwin's Patterns Not Padlocks: Finding Christ Amongst the Chaos (should I have just done a Quick Take on books with good subtitles?) but it is definitely a treasure in itself. We have Celtic services at our church on Sunday evenings sometimes, but I've never before attempted to understand the Celtic heritage of Christianity within the British Isles and how it entwined with Catholicism in early centuries, and how it fits within Protestantism today. So it's an informative read I would already recommend, that contains some beautiful prayer (my only complaint is that it does not come with an accompanying CD with some of the prayer and poetry set to music!) Over at Elizabeth Esther's website, I have been inspired to purchase Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. Which makes me reading two more books than I did in December. (And did I mention I might be getting a Kindle?!)

free irish clipart

Celtic Cross Clip Art :-)


While we are on the power of reading, can I say it's just awesome that while I've been sat lying on the sofa waiting for someone to come and care for ThirdSister, she has been bringing me book after book to read to her. (I must plan to lie on the sofa more often.) And SecondSister year old has plunged into reading things herself in such a profound way recently, it's a joy to behold. (If I don't mention FirstSister it's because she finished the entire Lemony Snicket series over Christmas and doesn't need a mention about how awesome her reading is. Oops.) 


Did I mention I was ill this week? My overloaded husband got the slowcooker out and made the lamb recipe I had lined up for Sunday. I had made butternut squash soup for our Meat Free Monday which just needed getting out of the freezer, and managed to roast a chicken yesterday. We have some frozen fish and fries for tonight, we'll use the chicken leftovers in tortillas on Thursday and by Friday, I hope to be well enough to cook Leanne's carbonara. Which tells me this - thank goodness and thank God for FlyLady and Leanne!


Just before I got ill, before the kids returned to school, I had the privilege of taking SecondSister to the ice rink. As far as our family were concerned, 3 January was still Christmas, and so to be able to skate around (and push her on a plastic seal pup!) to festive songs was a rare treat. I know that the ice rink were making money from their venture, but I was so pleased that we could do something with a Christmas lightshow and a festive feeling AFTER the 25th December. On her return to school SecondSister had a project on her favourite places and she listed one of them as the ice rink.

Second sister after skating, drinking and spilling hot chocolate, and generally enjoying herself. 
Apologies for the blurriness, it was taken from my BlackBerry! If you look closely
you may make out the reindeer!


I'm a bit late with the whole New Year thing, although we enjoyed making a fuss at Epiphany. I don't resolve at this time of year, although I have chosen the word Honour (English spelling) which fits in with the One Word 365 project. I do, however, wish to enter into 2012 with the following:
  • The aim of feeding, clothing, bathing and loving the 3 Sisters and my husband well on a daily basis
  • Focusing on books, conversation, craft and cooking where possible
  • Getting out more in the fresh air
  • Sharing this new home with other people
  • Developing my ministry to others in balance with the above aims.
Happy Epiphany and 2012 everybody!

* with thanks to Jen Fulwiler @ for hosting - head over there now and read a whole load of other Quick Takes!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

And you will honour him.

Yes, I know it's been aeons since I blogged. 

But we've had Advent, a house move and Christmas since then! 

Yes, a house move - not far from our old abode, but a big, big change, nevertheless. A big, positive change, in so many ways. We have more space, more bedrooms, more bathrooms and it does mean that life feels easier (despite not being able to find the exact thing I want out of a box at the exact time I need it, obviously.) We can walk easily to the town, Church and school and the whole experience feels healthier and more community-centred. I can walk down the street and see people I know and who are friendly. (This is all in addition to the fact that we no longer live in a house attached to another house that contained two people who did not contribute at all to my quality of life). I feel truly blessed.

But I didn't dip in to blog about the house move. Rather I wanted to dwell a little on my word for 2012, which is HONOUR. We don't think that much about honour, these days. It remains something biblical, or royal, or something which you do for your husband. But I'm going to reclaim honour for 2012.

I'm mainly going to put in a lot of work trying to honour the Lord our God, not only in prayer and thought but in ACTION. I'm pretty well practised in offering up all sorts of praise in the shower cubicle, before emerging and revisiting the same old patterns of anger and non-appreciation during my day. I'm going to try to stay THANKFUL and PRAISING and PATIENT as much as I possibly can, for His sake - to HONOUR Him.

It's easy to know this as I sit typing, looking out over the roofs of our town and hearing the shouts of schoolchildren playing on the wind. But I'm finding it not only in the joy of a new house, but the water that comes out of a tap, the warmth from a boiler, the feel of a new bedsheet and the closeness of a family. I am blessed with such amazing things, I need to ensure I appreciate them and demonstrate my gratitude by Honouring ensuring my demeanour stays grateful and appreciative, by offering up thanks, by doing and thinking things in His name.

Luckily the Holy Spirit seems to have bestowed self-control on me this year already, and the Christmas holidays have allowed me to slow down and appreciate the pace of life, and not to focus on too many things. Getting the kids back to school this morning was tricky, but not overwhelming, and I wasn't yelling. THIS is how I need to honour him - in the moments of difficulty. Remembering to discipline with love. Remembering WHY the situation makes me angry and to offer that up. To raise a patient, peaceful house - a happy home.

LORD our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us, but your name alone do we honour. (Isaiah 26:12-14)