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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Decorating ~ Tis the Season

Stockings are set out by the fireplace for those surprise presents Santa always brings. Truthfully, I haven't been a stocking stuffer recipient since childhood. I just like looking at the stockings on the mantle.


My little tree has stood in for Christmas tree duty now for several years. I bought it because I thought it would be quicker to decorate each year and also, it saves on buying and throwing away trees. The tree is not so big but it does have full some boughs so it carries quite a lot of decorations.

Some years I don't trim the tree in lights at all. Some years, I use multi-coloured lights. Mostly, I like clear lights.

I thought I would go for a gold theme this year but when I finished, I saw that the gold bulbs looked too large for my little tree. I removed them and started the decorating anew.

Here is the little tree after I added white stars and red sparkling bulbs.

Now here is the little tree with the lights on.

I usually keep my holiday decor quite simple. I add some red, glittering bells to my door, instead of a wreath and I often adorn the fireplace mantle with holly and red berries. Some years, I don't decorate at all. I do like to look at glittering things, so I decorate as often as I can. I don't bother with lights and tinsel around the walls and windows.

This year I added a beautiful red skirt to the tree. I tried to add a metal star but that only fell over, lol, so back to the trusted angel on top. There is a way to light her up too but I don't like to fiddle with the electrical wiring and I think she looks fine just as she is.

Now that my decorating is done, I can get on to other things like preparing for and discussing with the Missions of Hope leader, Pastor Jonah, what we should do for Christmas celebrations in the village. I am excited. This year, I launched my Etsy shop and am raising funds to help the villagers. The first project is to provide some jiko stoves and a Christmas party. If you can help, I'd love to have you stop by my shop. If you want to help but don't want a photo or a disciple cross, please contact me and we can discuss. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Message of Hope

I wanted to share with you the exciting project Pastor Jonah has been busily involved in in Kenya. Here is a report he recently sent me and posted on his blog.
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Vacation Bible School (VBS) is here again. We have been busy working to prepare the materials for over two months now. Praise God they are ready for distribution!

Here is the desk where I've been working at the computer writing these books.

Here I am holding the finished product.

Hard at working packing the booklets for distribution.


We are going to have over 500 teaching centers and over 10,000 kids will be learning about Christ through these booklets. We also hope to reach some rehabilitation boys in VBS in a few weeks with these teachings and the message of hope.

Please pray for us as we continue to distribute these books. It is a difficult work and we do hope we will make it.

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If you want to help Pastor Jonah in the work of sponsoring and hosting the Vacation Bible School for the rehabilitation children (boys and girls) in Kericho, there is a donate button here (see right side bar).

Many blessings to you all and to those in the USA, Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Indulgent Weekend

What do you do when you feel tired all the time? How do you keep your spirits up day after day?

I get tired of feeling tired and I don't want to give in to feelings of uselessness or self-pity. That was actually one of the reasons I started this blog last Spring; to help me remember the simple pleasures of life. The big pleasures are more elusive these days and so it helps to focus on small things of joy and to remember that there really is joy in such moments.

This weekend with all the rain and my seeming inability to get out to do an important errand, I ended up staying close to home. An internet friend in a far off land told me I should get out to the movies but the rain hindered that. Instead, I rented two movies from a video place a block away and stayed cuddled up with a soft blanket and pillows to eat popcorn, drink soda and watch:

He's Just Not Into You
with Jennifer Aniston & Ben Affleck; and Revolutionary Road with Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio.

I watched the Jennifer Aniston, chick flick first and found it quite engaging. I have not read the book by the same name but I did watch an interview on Oprah Winfrey with the author and found him to be very enlightening. The movie was fictional however and it captured my attention more so than I expected.

Perhaps I was tired by the time the second movie played (the first movie was rather long). But I did not enjoy this "blah-ish" movie nearly as much as I expected since I love both Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio. Anyway, the two movies more than took up my Saturday evening.

Today, I finished a book I've taken a long while to start (it's been sitting in my collection for a long while) Mme. Proust and the Kosher Kitchen by Kate Taylor. This was a satisfying book overall but it was weakened in the telling of the story through the eyes of three protagonists. I think it was one too many, but that is my humble opinion. I won't give the story line away but I did very much enjoy the diary entries of Mme. Proust who spent much of her life (at least in this novel) attending to the needs of her asthmatic writer son, Marcel Proust. If anyone reads the book's description on Amazon.com and would like to read it, I would be interested in a book exchange.

Still feeling indulgent, we had chicken with ginger ale sauce for Sunday dinner from Lynda in Tanzania; one of the bloggers I love to read. She has a lot of wonderful recipes. Some of you might be wondering what I am doing eating chicken when I said I was going vegan. Sadly, I have not been able to continue with my vegan diet. It simply takes much more energy and planning than I can muster at this time. Whenever I am a little more "up", I hope to incorporate vegan eating as often as I can.
The chicken dish was delicious accompanied by brown rice and a mixture of steamed gai lan (chinese broccoli), crimini mushrooms and green beans.

In my first making of this dish, I learned that next time I need to somehow get the more fast out of the chicken first. Perhaps this means boiling it or partially cooking it and straining off the fast. I also need to measure the ginger ale more carefully or use more chicken to have a thicker sauce than what I ended up with. Nonetheless, it was a delicious dish which I will try again some time. My roommate pronounced the sauce "really, really good" and asked what was in it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Downsizing

Before the fire in the condo building on Mother's Day, I had been contemplating downsizing. Excessive paper, books and stuff coming out of the closets were all making me feel unhappy about my current level of materialism. With my poor health issues, I do not make quick progress on any project so I hadn't begun to get organized when the fire happened.

We were in a hotel for several months after the fire while reconstruction went on in the affected units in the building. When I moved back in I was even poorer in health than before the fire so progress in unpacking and downsizing has been very slow. I did manage to get rid of clothes, books and "odds and sods" to the local goodwill; but there is still much to do to get rid of things and satisfactorily downsize.

I've decided also that some smaller things can be gifted to friends who will appreciate them. Here are two little packages I'm packing for friends south of the border.

Silver earrings for a friend in Maryland. These are for pierced ears but my friend will convert them to clipped earrings.

A bracelet and a broach for a friend in Florida.

I have many reasons for downsizing. The main one is waste. Wasted funds as I don't use a lot of things I buy and wasted space since I've run out of space for everything I buy. If I can overcome accumulating things, I think I will have more funds to give to missions overseas, to the Missions of Hope. The people helped by this missions live in simple huts with not even a scrap of paper lying about. Helping the missions really makes me appreciate more those things I do have. It also makes me question, what I really need to live and live well.

Once I've downsized (and in fact even before then), I need to be able to ensure I don't get to overflowing in the condo again. I've heard from experts that the way to keep this from happening, is to get rid of at least one article for every item you purchase. From a lesser known Canadian actress who keeps only a small wardrobe of clothes, I learned that she donates two items of clothing for every one item she purchases. Now that, is will power and determination. I think I will be doing well if I can rid myself of one item for every item purchased. Give it a try yourself and you will see this is actually harder than it sounds. If you are successful, you will be doing a small part for "greening" your space.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Yummy Blueberry Muffins

The other day you will remember my first try at making Treacle cookies and burning more than half the batch. I thought I could still eat them but they were simply too hard for me and my gums are a little sensitive right now.

Torrential rains have been coming down for the past week and over on the large island off the coast, Vancouver Island, hundreds of people have been evacuated. More rain is expected though I think it is supposed to slow down a bit.

With weather like we've been having, a person craves hot drinks and comforting snacks so I made these very easy blueberry muffins. The ease of this recipe is just what appealed to me besides my love of berries. Easy is good in my vocabulary with my short attention span and health issues.

I can safely tell you that these muffins will be made again soon. They are simply "yummy".

BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 c. milk
2 c. flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. frozen blueberries

Blend together oil, sugar, egg, and milk. In separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Then blend together the rest of the ingredients taking care to add the blueberries last. Don't stir too much or the dough will turn blue from the berries. Bake for 30 minutes or less at 375 or 400 degree oven.

Enjoy!

Update: My yummy Blueberry Muffins were pronounced the "best" muffins I've ever made. Quite an endorsement considering how easy they were to make. I did find them very tasty myself.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gift to Self

I've been eagerly awaiting my Christmas gift to myself; a pair of earrings from the talented Jillian at The Noisy Plume. The earrings arrived in yesterday's mail, wonderfully packaged and with a nice little surprise of Zen tea inside.


Today I am feeling tired after non-stop cleaning and organizing for the past two days. I can only do a little bit and then I must rest and so what should take a short while stretches into a long period of time. I haven't even had a shower yet but I wanted to show off my earrings (made of green quartz) and say a big "thank you" to Jillian for the thoughtful touches with the parcel.


Receiving my parcel, wrapped up all nice and pretty & with such attention to detail, really made my day.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Treacle Cookies

Today it looks like this outside.

[Northward view from my patio.]

Yesterday, we had our first snowfall on the mountains to the north though it was a glorious, sunny day. Today, the black clouds are menacing and it is windy. I decide I want some Treacle cookies with tea, to stay warm and cosy.

I haven't said so before but I am not the world's great cook so I really love recipes that are simple and quick. This recipe was simple to put together after I learned that treacle is actually blackstrap molasses or a golden syrup. I opted to use the molasses so my treacle cookies are darker than the ones in the photo at the link above. Also, I'm always busy doing something else rather than fully attending to my cooking and I overdid the first batch of cookies, he he. I will eat them anyway as they are for dunking in my tea.

[Cookies from 2 different batches. Ones on the right are overdone.]

Here I am in front of the television learning about why you should not feed a raccoon. I've always thought that raccoons are such cute little creatures and we have so many in this city so it is good to be reminded not to feed them! They are after all, wild creatures.

Now I am feeling toasty and beginning to think about things like tidying and cleaning. The work of re-piping is feverishly going on in the hallways here in my building. In a few days the workers will need access to all the units to do the re-piping that is required in each unit. I will be so glad when it is all over with. Now, where do I put the Christmas tree so I don't have to take it down again when the re-piping work is ready to be done in the unit?

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Gift

In the chill of the evening I stopped off at my doctor's office to pay a small bill. A task that has been lingering in the background for some time. I thought it was good to stop and pay the bill while I was in the neighbourhood, rather than mail a cheque. At last, I can strike this errand off of the "to do" list.

Outside the office I met up with two trees, one more barren then the other. I take delight in how the tree with bare branches nonetheless looks like it is dressed for an evening out. The moon is in another direction but the street lamp's glowing ember shines through the naked branches, as if to say, "I will give you warmth and light tonight." How romantic!

The other tree is still clothed in leaves; arrayed in all her golden splendour. She stands firm against the rough winds and sleeting rain of the past few months, defiant in giving up her leaves for another season. I admire her strength.

And me? I stand at my doctor's office ready to depart and head into the night. So happy for the gift of a royal purple scarf. Hand made by God's poetic hand maiden, Destiny Diadem. Even her name is poetic. She unexpectedly gifted me with this lovely and long scarf and it was utterly PERFECT for the night. A delightful surprise.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fire in the Morning

It is 5:20 a.m. and there is a knock at my door to tell me there is a huge fire down the street. I go outside on the patio and try and get photos. I don't have a good camera for night photos but these will show you just how big the fire is. Swirling, billowing black smoke turns to gray, then shades of crimson.

I can hear several sets of sirens for the past 25 minutes but I don't know what is burning. I will have to go out and see or check the news later this morning. I pray no one died or got hurt. 25 minutes later and I find a report on the city's breaking news. There is a 3 alarm fire ripping through several businesses. It is sad. So much waste but I am hopeful no residences were affected and I am hopeful the small business owners had insurance.



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In Flander's Fields

[Caption: Photo from Reuters Pictures, November 4, 2009 - Field of Remembrance, Westminster Abbey]

In Flander's Fields


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
— Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 - 1918)

we shall not sleep though....

A Memorial Plaque showing a cross with a soldier's helmet, poppies and the words 'In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row' - John McCae.
A descendant of Scottish immigrants, Lieutenant Colonel John Alexander McCrae was born in Guelph, Ontario on November 30, 1872. He was a physician and an author, but is best known for "In Flander's Field." During the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium he served as a surgeon with the Canadian artillery in a field hospital.

Throughout the hellish battle in the Ypres Salient, McCrae treated many injured soldiers and on May 2, 1915, he witnessed the death of a close friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer. The next day, after performing the funeral service for his friend in the absence of a chaplain, McCrae sat near the cemetery and, as he watched the poppies blowing between the gravestones, he penned this poem to express his sadness at the devastation. The poem was later published in Punch magazine on December 8, 1915.
I've always loved this poem and remember reciting it as a child with other classmates. We would stand as we articulated the wonderful words to this poem, like a chorale group. The song "Taps" would play over the school intercom. A makeshift cross with a soldier's helmet perched atop would sit in a prominent place at the head of the class and we later stood in silence for a moment to remember the fallen. There was always, always a tinge of sadness and great emotion. Even now when I read the poem, and think of the fallen, tears swell to my eyes and sometimes spill over.

I am grateful I have these memories and grateful that some people still take the time to remember those who sacrificed everything for our freedoms. Most of all, I am grateful to those who went to battle; those who returned, and those who rest in a place far from home and loved ones. May God rest their souls.

November 11 is Remembrance Day, also known as Armistice Day is of course, the anniversary of the end of World War I 91 years ago, and it is a day for remembering those who died in the wars.
On the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, please remember the war heroes.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Crosses for Missions

Many of you know that I am deeply involved in missions to poor villagers, mainly to the widows and orphans in Kenya. We operate on very few donations to try and bring relief to the many people in the village who struggle to eke out a living in a country hard pressed by famine and poverty. Pastor Jonah's time is strictly voluntary as is mine. I try and support Pastor Jonah and other village leaders as best I can, including through helping build a web presence for the Missions of Hope.

Recently, I was blessed with a donation of hand crafted crosses with a request to sell them and use some of the profits for the mission field. I cannot tell you how happy I am about this blessing because it provides an exciting opportunity to help the mission field in Kenya in time for Christmas. The villagers will be so happy that they can celebrate Christmas like others throughout the world if we can sell enough crosses to help them. At the same time, you, the reader will have a chance to do some Christmas shopping and buy stocking stuffers for one or two of your favorite people. "Yes" Christmas will soon be here!!!

I have a very limited supply of crosses to sell. So if you want one please be quick to speak up. You will see from the two photos that these crosses are designed to be worn by men and women alike. My small shipment will be arriving very soon and then I will be expecting one more smaller shipment. I am hoping to sell at least the first shipment in time to be able to get your cross to you in well enough time for your Christmas tree. The price for each of these handcrafted crosses is $25.00 (US) plus $5.00 for shipping and handling.

Your hand crafted cross will come with a card which reads:

100% hand crafted by Christians in the USA

The Disciple's Cross is made up of three distinct components. The simulated leather cord reminds us of the leather straps used to beat our Savior; the wrapped wire stands for the thorn branches twisted into a crown to mock the King of Kings; and, of course, the nails represent the large spikes that were driven into the hands and feet of the Lord of Lords.

As you carry your Disciple's Cross with you, consider the sacrifice that Jesus made for you and take up your cross and follow him.

(c) 1994 By Disciple's Cross. All Rights Reserved.

Matthew 15:24 "Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me."

These wonderful crosses will be cherished by your loved one (or by you) for years to come. Profits made from the sale will be used to make a jiko stove/oven in the village of Kericho to help make the lives of village women safer, healthier and just a little bit easier. You can read more about the Jiko Stove Project here and in the blog here Missions of Hope.

[One of the women who received a jiko stove in 2009]

To order your crosses or crosses now, please send me an email with your complete shipping address and remit payment of $30.00 (US) via Pay Pal (includes price of the product and shipping charges) to kerichojoy{at}gmail{dot}com. Funds must be received before crosses are shipped.

The crosses come in several different colors but there is only one cross in each color. Let us pick the color for you and it will be an adventure, like a "surprise box". You won't be disappointed.

We who love the Missions of Hope to Kericho are excited about this new opportunity. If you have any questions or can support the Missions through your purchase, I would love to hear from you.

God bless you and thank you for your support

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