Wednesday, 30 November 2011

A Child-like Christmas and Two Babies in the Manger

How many I times have you heard people say that it's the children who make Christmas special?
I figure that they might mean little sweeties like my darling niece, Nina. She'll be 2 before we know it and this will be her second experience Christmas coming up.
I wonder what she will love about this one? What will she remember of Christmas time 2012...that she unwrapped a zillion different parcels all shiny & bright just for her & ate too many strawberries & sat on a dozen different knees? I wonder?
I wonder too, if we all scrunched up our eyes & squinted really hard & imagined, just for a moment, how Christmas might look through the innocent eyes of a brand new, untarnished child? A child who hasn't the foggiest idea what disappointment means or who Father Christmas actually is. And when that child hears the true Christmas story for the very first time, maybe, something wondrous just might happen..the magic of Christmas might even come alive & seed hope in to our very hearts. A brand new hope, like little Misha found in my favourite Christmas story ever, called "Two Babies in a Manger" from Chicken Soup for the Soul.
I am joining in with my dear friend Karen & other lovely souls at Pom Pom's Ponderings as we journey through the weeks leading to Christmas day & share thoughts on a "Child-like Christmas". I shared this story last year & I have just read it once more for my dear Phone News friends (a local phone new service for the blind) & I will go on reading & sharing it every year for the rest of my days..I just know it! Maybe you have someone that you might like to share it with too.


Two Babies in a Manger


In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics (based on biblical principles) in the public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments, and a large orphanage. About one hundred boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run program were in the orphanage. They relate the following story in their own words:
It was nearing the holiday season, 1994. Time for our orphans to hear for the first time, the traditional story of Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger. Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word. Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude mangerEach child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. No colored paper was available in the city. Following the instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel, cut from a worn-out nightgown an American lady threw away as she left Russia, were used for the baby's blankets. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States. The orphans were busy assembling their mangers as I walked among them to see if they needed any help. All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat. He looked to be about six years old and had finished his project.As I looked at the little boy's manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger. Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously. For such a young child, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings very accurately, until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger.Then Misha started to ad-lib. He made up his own ending to the story as he said, "And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don't have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn't, because I didn't have a gift to give him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift. So I asked Jesus, 'If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?'"And Jesus told me, 'If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.' So I got in the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me that I could stay with him—for always."As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him—FOR ALWAYS.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8: 38, 39
♥♥♥♥♥

Sunday, 27 November 2011

An Anniversary, A Feast and Some Visitors

And what should arrive by box just this week but a treasured copy of the stories of "Our Willows" friends..well they are Our Willows now that they have journeyed near and far and almost back again! Confused?? The book came by box, care of my mother & is a dearly prized tome, having belonged to my Uncle Pete, until quite recently. He, being a dear soul who adored the Willows, fancied he had a good deal in common with Mole and who owned none other than 16 various copies of this dear-to-his-heart tale. The Our Willows refers to the inspired journey that The Three are presently undertaking..now arrived in Texas..go here to Pom Pom's Ponderings to see more (you'll find the links in the right sidebar) and whom shall surely arrive upon our very doorstep in the fullness of time.
"Shove that under your feet," he said to the Mole, as he passed it down in to the boat.

And don't you love this bit..from the Open Road:
 'He must be a very nice animal', observed the Mole, as he got himself in to the boat and took the sculls, while the Rat settled himself comfortably in the stern.
'He is indeed the best of animals' replied Rat. So simple, so good natured and so affectionate. Perhaps he's not very clever, we can't all be geniuses; and it may be that he is boastful and conceited. But he has got some great qualities, has Toady."
There were other precious things in the box too.
 We had a lovely time catching up with my mother & Roly....lunch, Farmer's Markets & things.
Thanks to my blogging friends in other hemispheres I have become increasingly conscious of the counterpoint of the seasonal timing over the festive season. Although we enjoy a summer Christmas and year ending here in New Zealand, there is something indelibly Christmasy about red in either season. I am always fascinated by the flowers of the feijoa in my garden that arrive so proudly & timely in all their coronial crimson glory. What an astonishing added flourish..the gold tipped points! 
Other eminent red arrivals..my deliciously yummy raspberries. Now that I have added some Christmas sparkle the birds are learning to share a little more nicely.
And who is this? A Christmas fairy amidst the raspberry canes?
Yes indeed.
Don't you love her curly hair! Her wings will give you a little clue as to what is hiding in the tin.
The roses arrived home with my darling late one night. They were rescued from the gardens at his work, after high winds wrought their mischief on the heavy blooms and bent their stems.
Ah ha shortbread, celebratory shortbread, in fact! Made in the usual style but with the addition of 1/2 cup of coconut flour & some dried rose petals. The coconut flour gave a richer taste but I am told that the rose petals added a nice flavour but interesting, chewy texture.
This last weekend was a particularly special time for us as it was once again General Election time in New Zealand..no, that's not what was special but it was the day of an election that we met 33 years ago on the 25th of November. Rob was on a train destined to meet me on the 24th, Thanksgiving day & thanks to Sue at The Quince Tree I have now discovered that the 25th is in fact St Catherine's Day..patron saint of Nurses!, of young girls, students & some others...so under the shade of the Melia tree, we celebrated our anniversary of meeting with a Feast of St Catherine, not of cattern cakes, but rose petal shortbread, fine strawberries & the company of some dear friends.
I think at this point Rob was demonstrating the operation of our Bialetti coffee maker!

I think we may have started a trend..I bought these (the roses & alstromeria below) from a little flower stall just across the road. Fruit & flower stalls what could be better! Aren't they gorgeous.
I have been making bath salts, ahem, with rose petals. It's too late now but I'm not soo sure about the rose petals floating in the bath. What do you think? I found the inspiration & recipe here:
 Everyday Beauty Rose Petal Bath Soak although I reduced the Himalayan salt content in my mix. A very soothing relaxing bathing experience. I have been buying loads of epsom salts & baking soda over the time that I wasn't so well & have found that Bin Inn has it in bulk at the best price by miles.
The other tied up bundles are an oatmeal, lavender combination to create a silky smooth bath that truly soothes irritated skin & pampers regular lovely skin.
More red for lunch!
I discovered this glorious wild flower display on my way to work the other day..just on the urban road- side.
 Isn't it delightful!
I'll be back on Wednesdays for a while as I am joining in with Pom Pom & friends during a month of A Childlike Christmas posting. Do feel free to pop in & join us here (with me) or there
Lovely to see you my very nice & best of friends!
MUCH  
♥♥♥♥♥

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Wreaths and Angel Wings


What if we stripped the Christmas Season of all the hoopla and the nonsense and just stuck with the wonder and the innocence, wouldn't that be so much better?! Could we possibly manage that do you think? Well at least we can try and hold the focus & see what we can get away with.
 When we went to visit Matt recently, I took a magazine or two with me as I had come across a Donna Hay "Christmas" & some others, at a fair for 20c (who cares that they are last years). I love these cute pictures of childish delight.
 And I especially loved this simple little wreath. Happily, Matthew said "I've got one of those on my watch list!" (Trade Me) and so we bought it the very next day and had it sent to me here in Hastings.
 Perfect for the job!
 We had such a great time doing the rounds of the Kapiti Op Shops together. This little Margaret Tarrant, The Story of Christmas, was sitting on the counter at the Hospice shop with a few other books. Don't you hate that when you see something lovely or interesting but someone else has found it first! But I got brave & asked nicely if the other lady would by any chance allow me to buy this wee book? She very kindly agreed so I gave her more for it since she was so sweet.
 The illustrations are delightful.
 When I got home & my cake rack duly arrived I made this wreath.
 Nope it's not all neat & even but too bad! I quite like the green satin ribbon. I had a roll in my ribbon box that I'd bought somewhere for a $1 so I was also being economical.
 I used gingerbons inside each roll..they're wonderful, made with lots of real ginger by Buderim of Australia & available through New World here.
 I just had to share this cute idea that I came across on Pinterest although the source is Country Living .com Such a dear little way to make an advent calendar.
 I also found a couple of recipes for a Christmas simmer jar. Slices of lemon, lime, orange, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves & I added cardamom & star anise then you just add water & simmer on the stove to scent the house with tantalising festive aromas. The mixture can be used over & over until it loses it's scent. What would you put in this to create the scents of Christmas? I'm not sure if this is the right combination, although it certainly smells festively inclined. You can find other instructions here and the inspiration & source of the picture below here.

 I am still experimenting. I made another jar full & have popped it in the fridge to see how well it lasts before I make a label & give some away. Cute pressie for neighbours & teachers & thank you very muches.
 I love it when the pomegranates arrive here, even if they do come all the way from California! I like to try & buy things from Trade Aid as much as possible around this time so I was delighted to come across this hemp twine. The new Good mag is out. Love the emphasis on handmade gift & craft ideas & the article on foraging is great too. We keep saying that we need to make an urban harvest map but haven't managed to do it just yet.
 Yes my wonderful vintage find was indeed a singer sewing machine with knee peddle & in great working order. The stitching is way superior to my modern Bernina. Thanks to my mother attentions, the bobbin compartment is now free of dust & other wadded up accumulations.
 Doesn't thread up in quite the same fashion as the bernina but I think I've got that sorted now.

 Best not to drop it on the toes when moving it from place to place..it weighs a ton!
 I love the shiny singer badge don't you?
 I am enjoying the longer days & hopped on my bike & went to the park this evening. Nothing strenuous you understand, just a meander around. There's a new water play area that stays active til late. It seems to be working out really well. The kids love it.
 It took me a long time to discover the source of a particularly gorgeous scent each November. If you ever come across a cabbage tree in flower, do stop & sniff,
 the scent is heavenly, even if the tree itself looks kind of unassuming.
I loved this Christmas pharmacy window out in Havelock North. 
 All white & silver & ethereal & festive.
 Of course angels always need wings, especially at Christmas. Angels together with Christmas tend to spell Good News.
Hope that you are able to keep a happy, simple focus this week & not become too overwhelmed with the demands & busy-ness of the season.
Lovely to see you.
MUCH
 ♥♥♥♥♥
X0X0

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Going Home To Matt's

Funny isn't it..how going to stay with our son could feel like going home!!?
 The boys have been sowing seeds in their sunny laundry.
 We haven't been down to the Kapiti Coast for ages & ages. It was so nice to get away for a day or two & to be met with such charming hospitality.
 Everything so neatly & artistically arranged.
 Now, these legs have a little history, indeed they do. About the time that Matthew was doing a paper round, I heard a great deal of clunking & banging on the front porch early one Saturday morning & sticking my head out the door was greeted by legs..walked home from a garage sale & bought for the princely sum of $1.
 It was so nice to relax & make ourselves at home.
Very quietly rural spot with lots of interesting wild life all around, not that you can see any in the photo. I even heard a frog or two.
 And a vege garden with a nearly worm farm. The icecream container of wriggly tiger worms traveled with us to their new abode.
 We picked Fynn up from school on Tuesday. He's 7 & a delightful boy.
 Fynn & Pop had a great time exploring all the functions of Pop's Ipod nano watch. Apparently it told them that Pop had walked a million steps since April..impressive!
 While the master chef prepared us a delicious dinner..
these two had a door to replace in the bathroom.
Yum!! (first nights tea)
 and wonderful!
 I was treated to a small private concert after dinner.
 We even help with dishes in this household!
 The boys playing a wee trio. It was such fun.

 Then we got out the brace & bit to help us break in to the drinking coconut that we found at the supermarket earlier in the day.
 It was delicious & the flesh was really weird..kind of like firm coconut jelly but nice.
 Lovely sunsets down that way.
And really nice messages to stumble across.
There was quite a lot of detouring on our journey. In part due to gorge closures but also lots of stopping off at all our vintagey haunts. The first stop was 30 minutes up the road from home. Here's a wee clue as to what I found.
Wishing you a wonderful week. See you again soon.
MUCH
 ♥♥♥♥♥
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