Monday, November 8, 2010

moving & memories

Yesterday Nathaniel and a few other strong men collected all our belongings from around Syracuse and deposited them into our new flat. I have been looking forward to this day for a very long time, even before we made our big move from England I was looking forward to the day I would be able to unpack all our belongings.

As I considered the boxes that surrounded me in my new kitchen I saw that all the boxes had been labeled carefully to help guide my unpacking... and all the writing was done in my mom's handwriting. And that made me smile.

The more I looked around, the more I saw little traces of my parents love and care for Nathaniel and me. Two and a half years ago they came for a visit to Syracuse, and they spent the majority of their visit packing our belongings and helping us prepare for our move to England. What a delight to go about my work yesterday (and today), remembering that time together with my parents.

Sending Papi & Mom off - after all their hard work...

Unpacking boxes of cloths I remembered Mom giving valuable input on what cloths to save, give away and take with me to England. 'Yes', I thought, 'I am glad mom told me to pack this corduroy blazer away...' Mom is wise that way.

Trying to put our bed together yesterday we were thankful for Papi's packing common sense when we went hunting for all the vital little internal pieces, and found them all safely packed together in the rods of the bed. Just where they should be...Papi is clever that way.

And so my day went yesterday - one memory after another - reminded of our time and conversations together, and it was good.
...and thank you Papi & Mom for loving us in such practical ways...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

today - I am thankful

Life has been pretty full these last few months.
Some days I have felt a little lost
- lost in the chaos of my life.
Do you ever feel that way?

If I can only make it through today, I think to myself.
And God is so faithful to not only help me through the day,
but to help me get through each moment -
and I am thankful.

This morning I experienced Autumns first frost.
The 6am sky was crystal clear,
the air was sharp,
and the moon made a bright crescent high above me.

The God who made this amazing world around me, is the same God who cares for me. He has not lost me in the chaos of my him it is not chaos at all. He is my heavenly Father, and he knows my coming in and my going out -
and I am thankful.

Friday, July 2, 2010

in Cambridge you ride bicycles

(just a small sample of the many many bicycles...)

We went to Cambridge (finally!), and we loved it.
We wondered why it took us almost 2 years to get there.
I told Nathaniel I would be happy to move there if he wanted to.
Nathaniel said maybe someday.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

In London Today
Sunrise: 4:44am
Sunset: 9:17pm

Back in February my sister and her family from Spain came to visit for a few days. On the first night I explained the blinds - 'they don't close all of the way, I hope this does not throw off your sleeping patterns...'
'What no Black-out Shades, what sort of backwards country is this?' Naomi replied teasingly.
(in Spain, every home comes equipped with built in metal black-out shades that really do keep your home completely dark no matter what time of day it is)
But really it would be not problem - as in February the sun goes down at 4 and rises at 8:30ish.

This morning at about 5am the light was pouring through our less than adequate window shades and in the grouchy fogginess of my mind to those words Naomi said came back to me...What sort of backwards country is this?
...perhaps one that will make me the early morning riser I always wish I were (for 4 months out of the year at least)!
Either that or I need to realize that I am the backwards one for not biting the bullet and purchasing proper curtains.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


On a walk with Nathaniel a few days ago
- we do that a lot lately, its free and now that the sun does not go down till after 9 we are often tempted for a late evening stroll -
we were discussing the many changes that will be coming up in the next few months.

After I listed several things that needed to be done in preparation - my heart beginning to feel overwhelmed - Nathaniel said, "and the most important preparation is the spiritual one..."

no pictures of our walks so just a picture of the two of us!

So very true. I think so often I get wrapped up in preparing for life and worrying about the things I can't prepare for that I forget how valuable spending time with God is.
Prepare my heart first, and then prepare for what lies ahead.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The weather has just about warmed up enough
to entice me out into the front garden to enjoy my morning coffee and reading!
(though usually still with a light sweater)

*And that makes me happy*
One of the fun things I have been up to recently with my time is going to the library.

I found a nice back path to get to the library which does take a little longer then the straight forward way but I always feel a little like I might happen upon something magical. As of yet nothing, but I will let you know if anything magical does happen!
(you never know...)

I have found that our local branch has a wonderful collection of cook books, and I have taken great delight in taking them out one by one and reading through them.

a recipe I recently tried (from Tana Ramsay's Family Kitchen) and that I think is super yum...

Fruit salad with oats and warm yoghurt:
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup raspberries
(really you could use any berries or fruit you have on hand)
2 Tbs water
raw sugar (or what ever sugar you prefer)
1/4 cup natural yoghurt
4 tsp runny honey
  • lightly toast the oat flakes in a small frying pan until golden brown (take care not to burn!). set the pan to the side.
  • meanwhile place blueberries and raspberries into a small saucepan, add water and a sprinkle of the raw sugar (or what ever...) heat this gently, stirring occasionally.
  • add the yoghurt to the pan of toasted oat flakes and gently stir through.
  • when the fruit is nice and warm, serve the yoghurt & oatmeal into a small bowl, spoon on the fruit, and drizzle over the honey.
  • this should make for 2 servings or if you have little ones probably this would feed 4...Enjoy!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I am sprouting tomato plants.
I will probably be in Texas when they actually start producing tomatoes,
but it is still fun to watch them grow.

Soon - into a pot (or two!) they will go.

Friday, May 7, 2010

frivolity with £2

On an early morning walk this week I found a £2 coin laying on the side of the road.
I picked it up and put it in my pocket.
All week long I fingered it - What would I do with it? - I wondered from time to time.
A coffee maybe? perhaps that hair accessory I have been eying? or maybe I should put it away and save it for a day when we go to Greenwich market...

who knew £2 could be so fun?

On Friday I was doing some errands, browsing the shelves at Boots (our local drug store) for a few items I happened upon something completely frivolous...

Cleansing Milk...a lightly cleansing milk infused with soothing geranium oil it says on the box...for my face. I looked, smelled, read the back, appreciated the very very fun packaging (what is not to love about a glass jar of face lotion?), then put it back on the shelf and started to walked away. Then I noticed the sign, 50% off all Boots facial products.
I couldn't help it, I looked at the price -£1.98.
hmm - this was just the thing for my £2 coin!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

a project

back in January my sweet friend Ellen had her fourth child - she said one day,
"Abi, would you like to borrow my sewing machine? I certainly won't be using for the next good long while.."
Delightful! of-course I would take care of the sewing machine for her.
However I soon discovered that fabric, patterns and sewing notions were not as easy to come by as I initially thought. When discussing this with a friend who sews, she confirmed my suspicions there were no local fabric shops, I would have to make a trip into the centre of London to find what I was looking for. Don't get me wrong, I love going into the centre of the city - but not when I have to interrupt the flow of my day when all I need is a bit of thread or some buttons.
Since then my mom has come for a visit, and tucked in her suitcase was lovely fabric to help me get on with my projects.
how very happy!
I used half of this lovely green print for a table cloth, and it makes me smile. It helps a huge deal in making our little flat look homey - the other half I have dreams of a skirt, still waiting for the perfect pattern to appear.

the other fabric mom brought, I used to make napkins - which I have been longing to make for ages. I just hate throwing away napkins every time we have a meal! this is much better.

Monday, April 26, 2010


(bet you thought we got stuck in Paris...!)

9.30am Soo Jeung and I are awakened by a knock on our hotel bedroom -
its was Nathaniel and Steve.
They had risen at 6 to go to the train station to try to purchase tickets...what a blessing to have men to take care of us! Tickets were purchased and we were booked for a 12 noon train to Calais.

Off to the train station we went with a few moments to spare, just enough time to stop in at good old dependable McDonalds. Seemed a bit sacrilegious (I mean we were in the land of wonderful Baguette and Croissants), but but we were on a time restriction and budget, and even as I got to the counter to order I thought 'Even McDonalds can sound classy when spoken in French...Bonjour, um, le petit wrap... ' *smile*!

As we clacked along the French country side, all around us on the train we heard snippets of conversation - other travelers on the same situation with us. There was a sense of being bound together, people all on the same mission - but there was also a twinge of competition, what will we do when we get to Calais that no body else will think of? how can we be first in line.
What a battle to fight against the desires of the flesh, it is so contrary to put others first and look around for those who might need a helping hand.
To the Ferry! After so many grim reports, we found ourselves happily settled on a ferry crossing the Chanel within 2 hours of arriving in Calais. It was the beginning of the end of our journey and we were relieved.

(tired but happy - waiting in Dover for our last train home)

We were thankful for God's protection, we were glad for the opportunity to get to know Soo Jeung and share the gospel with her.
We traded contact information before we parted at Bromley South train station - who knows maybe we will meet again...

Friday, April 23, 2010


Friday morning (after our breakfast spread) we, along with many other stranded travelers got in line at the ticket office at the West Bonhough train station. We managed to get four train tickets from Vienna to Paris. It would be 14 hours long, but who's counting when you get the view the Austrian/Swiss Alps by train?

Music from the Sound of Music ran through my head for a good part of the ride.
We slept, we looked out the windows, we laughed, we got to know Soo Jeung, we ran through train stations to catch connecting trains.

it was a full day of glorious vistas, adventurous unknowns, and stress and by the time we reached Paris at midnight we were exhausted. You can imagine our hearts dropping heavily as we were told that there were slim chances of finding a room in Paris as the city had been inundated with travelers. Apparently we were not the only ones with the clever plan to go to Paris and take the Euro-star home. The expected delay in getting out of Paris was a 3 day delay.
Grouchy? yes I was grouchy and a little complainy - not a very nice picture of myself as my heart was squeezed and what was truly inside me began to spill over. I think it must be good to be squeezed - it helps me to see where I really am.

Steve seeing the overwhelmed looks on our faces said we would find a place to stay and he would cover the cost for the night. And God was so good to provide for us a very comfortable hotel to rest our weary heads. We slept hoping that perhaps travel news would be more encouraging after a good nights rest and with the light of the morning.

Nathaniel said to me, "see honey, God gave us a night in Paris together before we move back to the States. Just what you wanted"
True, but not exactly the way I had imagined doing Paris with my love... he was right though, this was an unexpected treat to be in Paris together.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

when the unexpected happens

A week ago this morning, we were dealing with the unexpected...all air travel had come to a halt and the best the airlines could promise us was a re-booked flight 5 days later, what were we going to do?
Well last Friday morning you could just about feel the panic and the doom in the hearts of the crowd sitting in the West bonhough train station in Vienna. We were all there you see, in a desperate attempt to purchase a train ticket out. Funny how a holiday can so suddenly go sour when faced with unknowns and no end of unknowns in site... how much will this cost? how long will this take? what if we get stuck? what about responsibilities waiting for me at home?
Well certainly this was an opportunity to trust God and a unique opportunity to be the light of Christ - though to be honest my heart wanted very much to be grouchy, and look out only for myself. (just get me home to my own bed and Clean Cloths!)

Thank goodness God does not leave us to our own devises. As my heart filled with worst case scenarios I was reminded of Matthew 6:25-34
' not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on, Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?...But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness...'
Don't be distracted Abi! God has a plan and a job for you to do even in this!

This is how it went one day at a time:

On Thursday night we met Soo Jeung, a Korean student living in England for the year who was to be on our flight back to London. She was all alone - so we asked her if she wanted to join us as we tried to get back home. She said yes!

After much deliberating we went to a hotel subsidized by the airline, thankful for a place at least to sleep. Some how we got much more! A bathroom the bigger then my kitchen (which I guess is not saying much considering the size - but still it was a nice treat), and when we got up at 5am we enjoyed a complimentary breakfast which I very much wished I had had the appetite to sample more of then I could - who ever heard of fresh squeezed Kiwi juice? If only it had not been so early I definitely would have given that one one a try. Instead I enjoyed a nice coffee and croissant - delicious and not too heavy, just right.

While in Vienna...

and it rained, and rained, and rained. I thought maybe winter had returned. I wore just about every article of clothing I brought - which was not very much - trying not to risk my fashion sensibilities too much which meant that I went a tiny bit cold on one or two occasions. Nathaniel had a good laugh at me over this.

(I would have wanted to sit on these seats if they had not been dripping wet)

The weather certainly did not stop us from exploring that beautiful expensive city though ...

(enjoying one of the free things Vienna has to offer...
a statute of Mozart in the wet park)

thank goodness we remembered our umbrellas!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sugared Pecans

Just in case you would like to try this "Easy, Fool-Proof" sugared pecan recipe:

1lb pecans (about 4 cups)

Mix together in a bowl:
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sugar

beat together:

1 egg white
1 Tbs water

add egg white mixture to sugar mixture then stir in pecans to coat.
spread pecans on a baking sheet

bake at 200 for 45 minutes stirring every 15 minutes

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Not too long ago I was cleaning out one of our drawers in search of an important piece of paper. As it often goes with me, I got distracted by a pile of envelopes and their content. Most of them needed to go into the bin, but there were a few keepers - one of which was a pretty little card from my mom.

Funny enough, this card was written back in the spring of 2008 and somehow it made the cut to move to London with us (I am sometimes surprised at the little bits that I decided to pack into our precious suitcase space back in the summer of 2008 when we headed to London). Well I am glad it did make the cut because tucked inside was a small piece of card which contained the recipe for sugared pecans - Delightful!
Now I love, just love sugared pecans...and we have a special bond, sugared pecans and I is a bit of our history. It was the month of my wedding, over the past few weeks Mom and I had been compiling welcome boxes for our out of town guest. Fun little things like, a lovely hand knit wash cloth and a recipe card with our wedding soup written out. Also to go in the boxes were small containers of homemade sugar pecans (pecans from our own back yard none the less!).
I took on the sugared pecans. For a week, any spare moment I had was spent shelling pecans - my fingers and nails being the worse for the wear! It was worth it though and finally I had enough shelled to being the 'sugaring process'. I followed the recipe to the T - but somehow I burnt the sugar and instead of yummy sugar coated pecans, I had hard burnt only worthy of the bin pecans. What a shame! I had to start the whole process again, now my fingers were really feeling raw from shelling pecans.
A long story short, I proceeded to burn a whole other batch of pecans at which point mom (ever so kind) took over. She found a new recipe that came out so wonderfully, we were in the end able to tuck little packs of sugared pecans into the welcome boxes.
Looking over the recipe card I found - I laughed when at the little note mom put at the bottom of the card 'This recipe is easy and fool-proof' she wrote. I imagine mom was remembering the struggle I had making them before and was reassuring me I make do these despite past failure!

I made my first batch of sugared pecans last week and have been munching on them ever since... just a few with my coffee I tell myself.

Friday, March 19, 2010

a little poem I found...

DEAR March, come in!
How glad I am!
I looked for you before.
Put down your hat—
You must have walked— 5
How out of breath you are!
Dear March, how are you?
And the rest?
Did you leave Nature well?
Oh, March, come right upstairs with me, 10
I have so much to tell!

I got your letter, and the bird’s;
The maples never knew
That you were coming,—I declare,
How red their faces grew! 15
But, March, forgive me—
And all those hills
You left for me to hue;
There was no purple suitable,
You took it all with you. 20

Who knocks? That April!
Lock the door!
I will not be pursued!
He stayed away a year, to call
When I am occupied. 25
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come,
That blame is just as dear as praise
And praise as mere as blame.

Emily Dickinson

Monday, March 8, 2010

I found culture shock came slowly when I moved to London. It took a good six months for it to really sink in that I truly was the foreigner. Mostly I found it was in the nuance of the vocabulary where I most felt like the outsider.

Just for fun, I have been putting together a list of words and phrases I have encountered since arriving in London. I thought you might enjoy a few.

to faff (v./adj.): a waste of time, to dither about.
'Sorry we are late, Abi kept faffing about with her makeup.'
'I would rather not fill out those forms, it is such a faff.'

To take the micky: to make a joke at someones expense or to make fun of someone

Elevenses (n.): a late morning snack just to tied you over till lunch, usually to go with a cup of tea.

(v./n.): a line you have to waitn
someone may ask you, 'Is this the queue for the toilet?'
'People have been queuing for ages and ages to get a look at the Van Gogh gallery'

Moreish (adj.): when one helping will simply not be enough, usually given as an excuse to take a second (or third) helping when a person knows he probably shouldn't.
person standing next to a plate of yummy chocolaty cake might say:
'I really would like a piece but it looks so moreish that I won't be able to stop once I taste it.'

I caught on quickly that if you through words in like,
Brilliant! or Fab! to describe anything I was excited about,
by putting 'a' in front of coffee or tea (ex: a coffee),
& by complaining about the weather
(which really I don't because, well that is not cultivating a thankful heart, and on the whole I really do love rainy drippy days!)
I would not stick out like a sore thumb any more than I had to.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

When Mercy and Jeremiah arrived from Spain at the beginning of January we had a mini post Christmas Christmas celebration. It was fun - we had a happy time of wrapping gifts, and saying things like, "Don't come in here!", and "Who took the tape?", and "Oh no, I cant seem to find so and so's gift!" Then we settled down on the sofas and cheered, admired and celebrated as each gift was given, then opened.
Double Stuffed Oreos! A whole box of Lucky Charms Cereal! Twizzlers - and not just one kind either!...Nathaniel was over the moon with delight.
A back rub for Jeremiah!
and so the evening went happily.

We settled down contented - and tired out from the excitement. Then Mercy produced one more gift - "Abi" she says, "you have the awesomest sister in the whole wide world." and she handed me the parcel.
and what do you think it was?

hmmm - Thank you Rachel for your sweet generosity, if only you could see how perfect they fit in... really just about anywhere I chance to use them.
and thank you Gab for your hand in the process and Mercy for caring it safely across the ocean. I certainly do have the awesomest sisters in the whole wide world.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

the towels in the kitchen...

One day last winter I was down stairs in Aunt Gillian's kitchen helping with some washing up.
We were chatting away about something or other and soon enough all the washing was done. All that was left was a bit of drying. I reached up and grabbed the towel hanging on the rack near me and began to dry the dishes in the strainer. Mid-sentence, Aunt Gillian interrupted herself and exclaimed, "What are you doing?!" confusion must have been written all over my face because she went on, "Why are you using a hand towel to dry the dishes? You should be using a tea towel for the dishes." Feeling a little silly I explained I had no idea there was a difference between the two towels - and to be honest did it really make that much of a difference?

So I got a mini lesson right there and then about kitchen towel rules and etiquette. One must always have a hand towel and a tea towel in use in ones kitchen for both have unique purpose.
  • the Hand towel: used to dry your hands after washing, or used to wipe food and juices off your hands while cooking (ie - perhaps you are making some tomato sauce and you get a little on your hand and so you wipe the sauce off on the hand towel). It is understood that this towel may get dirty quickly.
  • the Tea towel: Used to wipe clean dishes dry, also can be used to cover dishes to keep them warm before being placed on the table. This ensures that clean dishes are always wiped with a clean towel, and that guest are not presented with a dirty towel covering the food they are about to eat.
Huh - it made so much sense! I decided to try it out for myself and probably if ever you come to my house and have a peek into my kitchen you will find some version of this kitchen towel advice being put to practice... though I will admit that I am not as vigilant about it as Aunt Gillian!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

tonights treat

It is common knowledge that if you are having any sort of event, whether prayer meeting or convention there Must be time for tea, coffee and some sweet treat to eat. This of course, applies to bible studies in your home as well.
On Monday nights Nathaniel and I host a bible study for the 18 - 25 year olds who attend Christ Church Bromley. So this afternoon my mind is turning to what sort of sweet treat I will be providing tonight! Now if you go to the home of an experienced hostess you will probably find a beautiful cake of some sort, as I am only learning I will be sticking to something more simple - I am thinking oatmeal cranberry cookies.
Simple but oh so yum!

Just in case you don't already have a favorite Oatmeal Cranberry/Raisin cookie recipe already...

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp banking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries/raisins
optional - 1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts perhaps?)

bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes

Friday, January 1, 2010

So - with a new year comes new adventures, new opportunities to grow!

I am rarely gun shy of new adventures, but this year I find myself a bit intimidated by the prospect ahead of me. You see, my adventure is Time - what do I do with my time. I suppose we all have this same adventure, but the challenge is unique to each of our specific situations.

Last week I spent my last days as administrator in the church office. On the 31st of December I handed over my keys to the administrator, and started to function full time as wife and homemaker.

Here is the plan - With Nathaniel working towards going into full time ministry, this seems to be an ideal time for me to get a feel for what it might be like for me - to be the wife of a man in ministry. Nathaniel has thoughtfully made this learning time a priority, "Go ahead Abi, explore your gifts and interests, learn from the women around you, and grow in your usefulness for the kingdom of God. Take advantage of the opportunities around you, as this is a unique time in your life!" he says.

So, I have the adventure of Time. I am so thankful for it, but I am so afraid I will waist it - and that would be such a shame. How and where do I start? Well I have decided to start with a few small things and then work my way up and out!
  • I found out that my elderly neighbor upstairs enjoys sweet pastries to go with her tea. It would be nice to make a habit of baking something nice and dropping in for a visit and a cup of tea.
  • Nathaniel would be delighted if I took on the challenge of keeping up with the family birthdays (no small task when you consider that on Nathaniel's side of the family alone there are no less then 35 birthdays to keep track of.)
  • I learned last Spring that a big challenge of not having a job that required you to be up and out the door at a specific time was that I struggled to get out of bed in the morning! So, I will try to be up by 7 to go for a run and read my bible.
It is just a start, hopefully it is a good jumping off point for other ways I can use my time productively!