I wish I was a food blogger!

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icecream 4Last night I had the pleasure of joining a bunch of Canberra food bloggers as they photographed, tasted and laughed their way through a night of ice-cream tasting at Movenpick, the Swiss ice-cream mecca at Kingston Foreshores.

It was a freezing Canberra night, but owner, Siddharth Mahabal, gave us a warm and generous welcome. He really loves Movenpick and worked hard to help us to love it too. He told us about the wonderful natural ingredients, the dedication to using a special recipe to make the ice-cream, and how it is filled with goodness rather than food colouring and other additives. He said heaps more, but I am obviously a failed food blogger because I can’t remember any of it.  icecream 2

But what really matters is the taste. And it was good. We had blueberry smoothies, ice-cream galore, a lime and sparkling water drink, gooey chocolate cake and ice-cream, waffles and ice-cream, chocolate fondue with fruit, marshmallows, waffles, and ice-cream. It was all fantastic.

icecream3But my favourite part was meeting such an interesting and lovely group of people. There was plenty of time to chat as we shared these plates of food. And it seemed to me that we shared a bit of our lives together, and there was something pretty special about that.

Nadia who blogs at citymumrurallife.com

Karen who blogs at karenreallylikesfood.com

Serina who blogs at msfrugalears.com

And of course my lovely friend Michele who blogs at fineeating.wordpress.com

I loved hearing their stories and learning about what motivates them to blog. I loved eating way too much ice-cream on a cold Canberra evening while the lights sparkled across the crisp lake air. I loved the lime drink and the walnut and maple syrup ice-cream. I loved discovering how much we had in common even though I don’t live in Canberra and don’t blog about food (much).

So next time you’re in Canberra, you might not have the honour of being included in a food bloggers’ night out. But I think it would still be worth taking a trip to Kingston Foreshores for a great evening of ice-cream eating.

And if ever you get invited to a food bloggers’ event. Go!

I would suggest if you want to read more about Movenpick ice-cream that you head over to one of the blogs I mentioned. After all they are the real experts.

God bless, Kaye

My not-so-successful attempt at generosity

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Yesterday I was standing in line at the supermarket. The woman in front of me was buying a large container of cooking oil and a packet of rice. She was holding her $20 bill waiting to pay the cashier. I was standing behind her with my credit card ready to pay for my few items.

The cashier put out her hand for the woman’s money. The woman gave her the $20, but instead of putting the money in the till the cashier continued waiting with her hand out. There was some confusion and the woman pushed forward the money.

“That’s not enough,” the casher explained. “It’s $24.50.”

The woman stood silently still holding her money out. She obviously didn’t have any more money with her and there was this long embarrassed silence.

I’ve seen this often enough on movies and read about it in lots of blogs, so I knew exactly what to do.

“I’ll pay it. If you give me your $20 I’ll just pay for the lot on my credit card.”

I was a bit excited, it was fun to do this. Until the woman aggressively turned on me with a ‘how dare you!’ look on her face. “Don’t you think I can afford this? Do you think I haven’t got enough money.”

She was furious at me. It seemed that at any moment she might hit me. I felt like my stomach had fallen onto the floor and I was scared. I hurriedly apologised and wished that I had never made the offer.

The woman gave me one more glare and angrily walked away without the container of oil.

It might be a little while before I try that again!

 

The Weight of Glory by CS Lewis (1942)

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I was doing some research this morning and came across this great CS Lewis article. Here are few of the best bits. Enjoy and be encouraged.

We are far too easily pleased:

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.”

Desire for heaven:

“If we are made for heaven, the desire for our proper place will be already in us, but not yet attached to the true object, and will even appear as the rival of that object.”

“Heaven is, by definition, outside our experience, but all intelligible descriptions must be of things within our experience.”

The promise of heaven tells us that we shall have glory – we will have God’s approval and appreciation! Glory means “good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgement, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last.”

“In this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret.”

“The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.… There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”

God bless, Kaye

Prayer for Orlando – my church’s response

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My daughter doesn’t go to church very often. She’ll come with us on Christmas and Easter if she is around. It wasn’t always like this. She was part of a church until her last year of school. But lots of things changed for her. If it wasn’t for her love of family it would be unlikely to see her in church at all.

But she was in church with me last night. This is how my day went:

cathedral FB (2)10am – I saw a post on Facebook about a service of prayer and remembrance for those affected by the Orlando shooting to be held at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney.

The cathedral is just across from where I work, so it would be easy to get to. But more importantly I just thought it might be something my daughter would be interested in coming to.

10.05am – I sent a text to my daughter asking if she would like to come with me.text

10.06-2.00pm – no reply. Oh well, it isn’t Christmas and it isn’t Easter so what do I expect.

2.07pm – A text arrives – “Yeah, sure, sounds good I’ll be there around 5”.

2.08pm – me jumping up and down excited.

5.05pm – sharing a big bowl of Ramen noodles with my daughter.

6.00pm – arrive at the cathedral at the same time as the prime minister of Australia. We have to walk behind all the media to find a seat.cathedral

It was a beautiful service. The cathedral was filled with all kinds of people including representatives of the LGBTI community and the Muslim community, the US Consul General of the United States, and many other dignitaries. But most of all there were just people who wanted to pray at such a time as this.

Our hymn singing was accompanied by rousing organ and fabulous trumpet. The Cathedral choristers sang a haunting anthem based on Isaiah 43. The premier of NSW and the governor of NSW read the Bible. The Archbishop spoke against violence of all kinds – domestic violence, religious and sexual violence; and apologised for any violence done in the church’s name. He spoke on the grief we feel when things like this happen, and the grief that God feels when so many people made in his image are senselessly killed. And we prayed.

Sovereign God, we ask that you would restrain evil in our world and hasten the day when your Son will reign in justice and truth. Please frustrate the wicked plans of those who seek to inflict terror and violence, who cause harm to others out of hatred or fear or the quest for power. We pray for victims of terror around the world, including those who suffer for their faith or because of their sexuality that you would protect and deliver them, provide for all their needs and bless those who work for peace and justice. For Jesus Christ’s sake, Amen.

And in amongst all this I sat with my daughter feeling thankful for my church’s desire to pray for all people and to care for all people regardless of who they are. And overwhelmed with thankfulness to God who loves all people; and that in His love He gave His son that we might live.

God bless, Kaye

Witness

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witnessLast night I watched one of my all time favourite movies. Witness (1985) is directed by Peter Weir and stars Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis.

If you have never seen it now is the time to borrow it. It’s been around for a long time, so like me you’ll probably be able to borrow it at your local library. If you have seen it, but it has been a while go for a little journey down memory lane. I’m sure you won’t regret taking the time.

Witness is the story of a policeman who finds refuge in an Amish community. The movie is nearly 30 years old, and it has travelled well. It ticks so many boxes: gorgeous actors, beautiful music, stunning cinematography, a love story, a murder mystery to be solved, Amish culture, some clever lines to lighten the drama, and a dramatic final scene.

Harrison Ford is young and gorgeous in his role as John Book, the ever so honest cop who finds himself at the centre of a police scandal. Kelly McGillis, Rachel Lapp, the young Amish widow and mother whose son has witnessed a terrible crime is great to watch.

The soundtrack by Maurice Jarre is beautiful. The scenery is fantastic, and if you have any fascination for the Amish world then this is a great movie for you. However, to be realistic this is an outsider’s view of being Amish. There are probably no Amish actors in Witness, as the Amish community did not want to be involved in the production. In fact, members of the community were not impressed with the movie’s portrayal of their community or of what such a popular movie could do to their quiet lives. Instead, most of the crowd scenes are filled with members of the Mennonite community.

The opening scene of the movie brings the Amish community together for a funeral. In the middle of the movie the community once again works together to build a barn, in the fabulous barn raising scene. And finally, the quiet presence of the community at the end of the movie brings peace. All these events illustrate how a community can powerfully come together in times of great need. Although let’s not romanticise this too much, this community also controls behaviour with the ever-present threat of shunning.

The interest and fun in this movie lies in the clashing of culture, from the picturesque rural Amish life to the harsh reality of dishonest and greedy police in harsh Philadelphia. It is evident throughout the movie: when Rachel Lapp and her son pray before bed in the house of John Book’s sister; when John Book shows his gun to the peace loving Amish boy; when Rachel and John dance to a song playing on the car radio. And yet within this clash, there is also a common humanity where people work hard for one another, laugh and enjoy one another’s company, and find pleasure in the making and giving of small gifts.

So put your busy worries aside for a while and enjoy this movie that is as good today as it was all those years ago when it was nominated for 8 Academy Awards.

Reading Philippa Gregory

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I love it when someone tells me about a favourite author that sends me on a journey of reading pleasure. Even better is discovering that the favourite author has written loads of books.

the-other-boleyn-girlRecently a colleague mentioned how much she enjoyed reading Philippa Gregory novels. I picked up The Other Boleyn Sister and was hooked. Since then I’ve read another 4 and enjoyed each one. They’re not hard to find, my library has a shelf full.

Philippa Gregory is a historical fiction writer. Many of her books are set in and around the Tudor period of English history. They present a colourful and fascinating introduction to this historical period; a period I knew very little about beyond the fact that Henry VIII had six wives.

One of the challenges of her books is not falling for the temptation to find out how they end by looking up the history books. But surely this is also the great strength of her books as well. As I have nestled into these stories my interest in the historical period grows. I want to know if her writing is true to the historical record and I want to know what other people say about the period.

Gregory sells herself as a historian first and novelest second. Because her main characters are women whose stories were never documented to the same degree as the men of these times, she has to be creative with the historical resources she has. Some dispute her historical work, arguing that she is loose with the truth. I really don’t care. I love the stories, I love how she brings history to life, and I love how she inspires me to learn more about the historical events she writes about.

Writing about women in this era of history is challenging. Women were simply not as valued as men, so their stories have not been recorded to the same degree as the male historical counterparts. I love that Philippa Gregory is giving these women a voice. Often the women of these stories are treated like property to be bought and sold for a family’s economic good.  For example, Mary Boleyn (the other sister of The Other Boleyn Girl) was married at 12 and then the marriage was ignored because Henry VIII wanted her. She was used in whatever way served the family’s fortune.

In one scene Mary Boleyn is talking to some tenant farmers from her family estate. They are hoping that she will invest some money in their ideas. But she explains that she has no money. They are incredulous.

“You’re a great lady at court,” one of them protested. His gaze took in the neat tassels on my leather boots, the inlaid saddle, the richness of my dress and the golden brooch in my hat. “There’s more on your back today than I earn in a year.” But Mary explains “I do as my father does, as my husband does. I dress as is proper for their wife or their daughter. But I don’t own anything on my own account. In that sense I am as poor as your wife.”

Philippa Gregory’s writing reminds us that these women may be poor but they are strong. As I read these books my interest in English history is ignited. But my thoughts also turn to women of today who are silenced through poverty, lack of education, societal expectations or a worldview that demeans or belittles them putting them in second place to men. May their voices be heard much sooner than the voices of the women that Philippa Gregory writes about in such and engaging and entertaining manner.

Read and enjoy.

God bless, Kaye

Please note that I raced out and borrowed the DVD of The Other Boleyn Girl and was really disappointed with its retelling of the story. No surprise, but the book is better.  Oh and I should mention that these books do have some sex scenes in them.

 

Forgiveness

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Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. This line of prayer sits in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer and I must have prayed it a thousand times. And for the most part it’s a prayer that I can pray without thinking too much about it. Until something comes along that feels almost impossible to forgive.

Forgiveness is hard work. It can deprive us of sleep, of the ability to eat, of any sense of well-being. For God, forgiveness meant giving of everything he had. He knows that forgiveness is important. I am reminded of how great God’s forgiveness is in Psalm 103:

  • 103:3 He forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
  • 103:4 He redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
  • 103:8 He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
  • 103:9 He will not always accuse, nor will He harbour His anger forever;
  • 103:10  He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
  • 103:11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him;
  • 103:12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Today the door on a very unpleasant and difficult chapter in my life was finally closed. This should be a moment of great rejoicing, and I am truly thankful to God for what He has done over the past few months in my life. I have learned so much about God’s grace and His power. But now I believe that God asks one more thing of me, and that is to forgive the people who turned our lives upside down and tipped us out the other side.

I so love how God works miracles in our lives. I love how today was the day that a woman I have not seen for many years told me her story of learning to forgive.  And I return again to the words of Psalm 103 and know that God calls me to forgive.  But He does not leave me alone to do it, He walks beside me and ahead of me so that in the end it is not my forgiveness, but God’s power of forgiveness that can urge me on.

God be praised.

Kaye