Wednesday, 22 December 2010

With Much Love

Hello dear "friends of an angel"! I just wanted to thank you all so much for your friendship, comments,  inspiration & visitation during this past (almost) a year! Being part of the community of bloggers has been such a blessing to our whole family actually. Rob & I wish you all a wonderful & very happy Christmas. Please do play our Smilebox greeting & if you have a minute, sometime, have a go yourself..Smilebox is lots of fun & can be so easily personalized. Such a great way to stay in touch with the precious people in your life in fresh & colourful ways..even your own kids that have left home!
It would be a nice school holiday project to make a NewYear Smilebox together I am thinking.

Click to play this Smilebox greeting
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I have just posted a wonderfully easy recipe for Stollen
 made with quark & without yeast on our
  angel in the kitchen blog.
 So delicious & really simple to make small ones out of the mixture to giveaway too : )


Tuesday, 21 December 2010

"Where's the Baby Jesus?" a Story for Christmas

I know that it is right on Christmas, but I think that it is a perfect time to read a good Christmas story. I went looking for the "Two Babies in the Manger" amongst my chicken soup books a week or so ago & found this delightful heart-warming story along the way. I've typed the story out all by myself, which is quite something really, considering that I couldn't use a computer at all, let alone a keyboard only a year or two ago! ; )

"Last December found me filled with the holiday spirit & doing some extensive, elaborate decorating. Our home was part of a Christmas open house tour sponsored by the women of our Church to raise money for a local charity. 
During the tour, one person noticed the small nativity scene on my desk & admired it’s simplicity & loveliness. After examining it more closely, she noticed the empty manger & asked, “where’s the Baby Jesus?”. Her question brought back memories of the year I purchased the broken nativity setting.
I was very bitter & disheartened that year because my parents, after 36 years of marriage were getting a divorce. I could not accept their decision to part & I became depressed, not realizing they needed my love & understanding more than ever.
My thoughts were constantly filled with childhood memories: the huge Christmas trees, the gleaming decorations, the love we shared as a close family. Every time I thought about those moments I’d burst into tears, being sure I’d never feel the spirit of Christmas again.
My children were afraid that there wouldn’t be any snow for the holidays that year, but two days before Christmas it began to fall. Beautifully & quietly it came during the morning & by evening it covered everything in sight. I needed to go in to town to buy some ribbon & wrapping paper, but I dreaded the idea. Even the new-fallen snow stirred memories of the past.
The store was crowded with last minute shoppers- pushing, shoving & complaining as they grabbed from shelves & racks, not bothering to put unwanted articles back in place. Christmas tree lights dangled from open boxes & the new dolls & stuffed toys reminded me of neglected orphans who had no home. A small nativity scene had fallen to the floor in front of my shopping cart & I stopped to put it back on the shelf. After glancing at the endless check-out line I decided it wasn’t worth the effort & made up my mind to leave when suddenly I heard a loud, sharp voice cry out. “Sarah! you get that thing out of your mouth right now!” “But mommy I wasn’t puttin’ it in my mouth! See, I was kissin’ it! Look Mommy, it’s a little baby Jesus!”
“Well I don’t care what it is! You put it down right now! Do you hear me!”
“But look Mommy,” the child insisted. “It’s all broken. It’s a little manger & the Baby Jesus got broked off!” As listened from the next aisle , I found myself smiling &wanted to see the little girl who had kissed the Baby Jesus. I quietly moved some cartons aside & peeked through a space between the shelves. She appeared to be about four or five years old & was not properly dressed for the cold, wet weather. Instead of a coat she wore a bulky sweater several sizes too large for her small, slender body. Bright colourful pieces of yarn were tied to the ends of her braids, making her look cheerful despite her ragged attire.
I continued to watch as she clutched the little doll to her cheek, & then she began to hum. Tears slowly filled my eyes as I recognized the melody. Another memory from my childhood, a familiar little song: “Away in a manger, no crib for a bed the little lord Jesus lay down his sweet head” She had stopped humming & was softly singing the words. Reluctantly I turned my eyes to her mother. She was paying no attention to the child but was anxiously looking through the marked down winter coats displayed on the bargain rack near the end of the counter. Like her daughter she was rather shabbily dressed & her torn, dirty tennis shoes were wet from the cold, melting snow. In her shopping trolley was a small baby bundled snugly in a thick, washed-out yellow blanket, sleeping peacefully.
“Mommy!” the little girl called to her. “Can we buy this here little Baby Jesus? We can set him on the table by the couch & we could...”
“I told you to put that down!” her mother interrupted. “You get yourself over here right now, or I’m gonna give you a spankin’. You hear me girl?”
“But Mommy!” exclaimed the chld. “I bet we could buy it real cheap ‘cause it’s all broken. You said we aint gonna get no Christmas tree , so cant we buy this here little Baby Jesus instead? Please, Mommy, please?” Angrily the woman hurried toward the child, & I turned away, not wanting to see, expecting her to punish the child as she had threatened. A few seconds passed as I waited tensely, but I did not hear a sound coming from the next aisle. No movement, no scolding. Just complete silence. Puzzled, I peered from the corners of my eyes & was astonished to see the mother kneeling on the wet , dirty floor, holding the child close to her trembling body. She struggled to say something but only managed a desperate sob & the little girl seemed to understand her despair. “Don’t cry Mommy !” she pleaded. Wrapping her arms around her mother she nestled her head against the woman’s faded jacket & avidly apologized for her behaviour. “I’m sorry I wasn’t good in this store I promise I won’t ask for nothin’ else! I don’t want this here little Baby Jesus. Really I don’t! See I’ll put him back here in the manger. Please don’t cry no more Mommy!”
“I’m sorry, too, honey,” answered her mother, finally. “You no I don’t have enough money to by anything extra right now, & I’m just crying ‘cos I wished I did- it being Christmas & all..but I bet ol’ Santa is going to bring you those pretty little play dishes you been wantin’ if you promise to be a real good girl & maybe next year we can get a real Christmas tree. How about that! Let’s go home now ‘fore Jackie wakes up & starts cryin’ too”. She laughed softly as she hugged her daughter then kissed her quickly on the forehead.
The little girl was still holding the doll in her hands. She turned to put it on the shelf glowing with anticipation. The possibility that Santa might bring her a set of dishes was all she needed to be happy once more.
“You know what Mommy?” she announced excitedly. “I don’t really need this here Baby Jesus doll anyhow! You know why? “'cos my Sunday school teacher says Baby Jesus really lives in my heart!”
I looked at the nativity scene & realized that a baby born in a stable some two thousand years ago was a person who still walks with us today, making his presence known; working to bring us through the difficulties of life, if only we let him. To share in the glorious wonder of this holiday celebration & to be able to see God in Christ, I knew I must first experience him in the heart.
“Thank you, God,” I began to pray. “Thank you for a wonderful childhood filled with precious memories & for parents who provided a home for me & gave me the love I needed during the most important years of my life, but most of all thank you for giving your Son.”
Quickly I gathered the nativity scene pieces & hurried to the check-out counter. Recognizing one of the girls I asked her to give the doll to the little girl who was leaving the store with her mother, explaining that I would pay later. I watched the child accept the gift & then saw her give “Baby Jesus” another kiss as she walked out the door.
Once again Christmas is approaching. Christmas: a time for rejoicing, a time for giving, a time for remembering!
The little broken nativity scene I purchased that evening graces my desk every Christmas. It’s there to remind me of a child whose simple words touched my life."

Jeannie.S.Williams from Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas Treasury 



Saturday, 18 December 2010

A Miracle Before Christmas

Just like accidents, sometimes miracles come in unexpected guises. Many of us long for miracles of various kinds, often feeling more hopeful of such events around the Christmas season than at other times of the year. Perhaps, some of the adult commonsense droops just a little & the wonderment of childhood slips through the opportune crack & catches us unawares.
 Our miracle before Christmas came by way of "it's over before you even know what's happening"! About Tuesday, we were both in the garden when I said to Rob "there's the phone" & he made a dash for it... as you seem to do (why do we do that!!??) ran up & across the back porch & then crack!!! a board broke & he fell right through on one leg...somehow, jumped up & out & still answered the phone. By now, he was white & shaken & fortunately Matthew didn't mind when I said that we would call him back!!
His leg is white too because after we decided that it was indeed still in one piece, I slathered it with arnica cream & plied him with rescue remedy..I found his shoe later, still down the hole!
Considering all the climbing up ladders, trestling & using power tools lately this really was the strangest of events.

An interesting
way to descend.

In that moment, if his leg had broken, a tendon pulled etc our Christmas time could have been dramatically reshaped..but it wasn't & he is "still in one piece"..phew, very grateful on that one!! A miracle considering..!

Often, butterflies turn up for me just when I need them, as a kind of sweet reassurance that all will be well & that He is near.

My dear friend Cheryl gave this to us for our anniversary..perfect.
Mind you, Jesus seemed to have a bit of a problem this week himself. In the end, I just came out & asked him what the issue was. "It's these jolly beads, they keep scratching across my head".. "ah, that's easily fixed, said I..sorry!" 
I bought this Christmas card a week or too ago to share with you all seemed perfect for blogging friends.
The bit at the side says
"Hope makes wiser hearts & a buoyancy of spirit"
It's quite easy in the busy rushing of the season to find your spirits flagging just a little & before you know it you're missing the simple things..the things that really matter. I made myself stop & take a photo of this glorious site on my way the other day. An entire field & down the driveway bordered with hollyhocks. Someone planted these with a hope & a vision for a little bit of glory right here & now..what a delight!   
Last week I noticed all the reddery of Christmas. All around me this week I have observed  Christmas white. I have never really seen a guava flower before..they're quite amazing..
Funny how they become the reddest of fruit in the winter.
We have a versatile plant called renga renga lilies that will grow in almost any position & are especially useful for dry or shady spots, even under trees. They have such pretty white flowers through November & almost on till Christmas.

I like the Christmas white.. hints of purity. A gentle & beautiful reminder to keep things simple, to keep practicing kindness..everyday, towards ourselves & others through this special, yet demanding time. 

Bless you dear ones.
much kindness &

Sunday, 12 December 2010

A Conspiracy of Love

"Blessed is the Season that engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love"
Hamilton Wright Mamie
That's what Christmas is to me a season. A time where whole communities find themselves inadvertently drawn together; ends tied up, acknowledgements made, thanks given..a time of remembering & busy-ness, yet even in the bustle we come closer to kindness, we try harder to be "nice" than at any other time of the year. Somehow kindness, thoughtfulness & love manage to break's the baby that does it He melts hearts. As you see our nativity has two babies & a zebra..a wee concession to Rob being born in Nairobi.
I've been pondering that word nativity this week. It doesn't really pop up at any other time really when you think about it, just Christmas, yet we talk about ante-natal & post-natal quite often..then I saw the term "on this your natal day" on an old postcard the other day. Your natal day is your day of birth & the nativity is all the facts & details surrounding that new beginning. Now I'm just making this up a bit, but nativity is like the activity around the facts of your existence..born to whom, where, how etc. The nativity of the birth of Jesus of Nazereth is the one that is most memorable & holds the most power in all of history & is in fact a conspiracy of LOVE...
When we get out the decorations, make the cake, gather or make & wrap the gifts..we weave the colourful threads of memory & hope through life, through a family, a community..
we join in the conspiracy..God's plan of hope..

 Last year about this time our whole world (as we new it) had collapsed & having been away training for a new job teaching first aid Rob arrived home with this French Country plant support as a gift for me, which then morphed in to a Christmas tree. It was pronounced the "quantum tree" this week...& we were able to reflect on how amazing it was to get through this year & be ok..even flourish!  yahoo GRATEFUL!!

little music box...shh Kaitiaki hasn't seen it yet

 Floss over at Troc, Broc & Recup' has been kindly hosting this "Pause in Advent".
All week I have been giggling about her sons "reddery" that goes with all the greenery.
Funny how once the red cherries arrived on the scene it really began to feel like Christmas. Since then I have been noticing just how many red things we have in New zealand clustered around this time.
Such a good time to be selling fruit & so nice to give some away too.
Oh, do pop in here for my apricot & honey balls..they are so easy & really useful around about now : )

Pure reddery.
with every blessing & much

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

ThE ViNtaGe TEa PaRtY CEleBraTiNg 30 YEaRs!

Little Luca (nephew 3) arrived on a perfect summer's day tightly clutching his plate of oh-so-carefully made heart biscuits & exclaiming delightedly "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!"
 As Rob said, it was indeed..the birthday of our marriage. 
We were married on a chilly 6th December in 1980.

And here we find, our very same selves, 30 years down the track, more delighted to be married than ever: best friends living rich & simple lives gratefully. Celebrating with a tea party & a few special people in our own garden was just the most perfect thing to do. Come through...

 I made bunting to go around the umbrella..7 metres of it!
bunting for the front porch
and for the plum tree
we put ribbons on sticks to flutter in the breeze
We gathered our prettiest tablecloths, cake plates, tea cups & tea cosies & made yummy things to eat like caramel square (except caramel square is very bad went & put itself on the lense of MY camera & messed up all my photos : O )... & shortbread hearts & angels.

 Then we got Matthew home..well we needed a hand ; )
someone had to make the heart shaped egg & ham sandwiches & look after the baby

the wee boys Luca & Kaitiaki loved playing in the garden together
  Silke (delightful sister-in-law) & Nina
 walking on sunshine
 Dad & Bev
 My dear friends Margaret (neighbour)
& Cheryl..gorgeous girl.
Look at that olive in the background would you! Rob spent ages on trestling & ladders & with all manner of trimming equipment doing the annual topiary trim.

 Anna, dear daughter tucked in the corner
 Wendy, my lovely friend of 48 years & Ruth my kindred gatherer.
 "Stars" showered down upon us from the Melia tree..what a fragrance! (shame about the scratchy eyes!)
Fortunately caramel had not reached this camera lens (thanks Dad)

 Next day we were off to the Farmer's Market with Matthew & found snow! Amazing drifts of poplar "stuff"

 All we need to do now is choose a new card from our
"Box of Kisses" & write to each other more sweet words.

Thank you for joining us & all your kind wishes & gifts...we love you all !

  & Rob xoxoxo

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