Tuesday, 28 April 2009

In Praise of the Domesticated Man

Other than a man in a kilt (with a French accent, to boot), is there anything more attractive than a man wielding a hoover?
I don't think so...

Having just spent several days away, leaving care of home and household to my beloved, I hope you won't mind if say, that he really is the most fabulous man ever (in my humble and entirely subjective opinion). I came back to find, well, not an entirely tidy house (but then it never actually is...) but evidence of housework and laundry done, happy and healthy children, and a great big vase of cherry blossoms waiting on the kitchen table, oh and a nice wee glass of something yummy to have by the fire later...

Those of you who know him, will probably be aware he is the most fantastic cook too (thank you, Poppy!) I thought I would share one of his fab recipes with you, Madeleines au Citron. These are small, light cakes, with a wonderful fresh lemony taste, that go down particularly well with a cup of tea on a sunny spring afternoon. Or a rainy one, just to cheer yourself up.

Madeleines au Citron (makes 18)

2 large eggs
150g caster sugar
150g flour, sifted with half a teaspoon baking powder
150g butter (unsalted), melted
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated

Beat the eggs and sugar until light and foamy, then beat in the melted butter. Gradually fold in the flour , a spoonful at a time, then the lemon zest. Butter a Madeleine tin (well, you could just use a bun tin, that would be just fine. You could use paper cases, but we don't) and fill with the mix. Bake in a preheated oven at Gas 7/425 F/220 C/180 Fan for about 10 mins. Allow to cool briefly on a cooling rack, before making that pot of tea and getting stuck in.

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Saturday, 25 April 2009

L'Arche Friendship Retreat

Just come back from helping facilitate a L'Arche Friendship Retreat. It was so beautiful. Five pairs (one person with a learning disability and one assistant) who came from our community and L'Arche Edinburgh, to share the story of their lives together. We prayed and played and painted, told and heard stories, sang and danced, ate and slept, swam and walked, laughed and joked and were silent together for four days. It was so beautiful.

There is more about it on the other blog I contribute to here and more photos here

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Sunday, 19 April 2009

Toot de toot! A birthday weekend! My wee chap scrubbed up rather well for his big day, or rather a whole weekend of big days, spent with some very bestest friends sleeping over for two nights. So, yes, some chaos, some tired parents, but everyone very happy...

Plenty of handmade and thoughtful gifts...

And a party full of rainbow colours....

But very best of all, glorious hot sunshine (it was snowing here this time last year!). We dragged tables and chairs out into the garden for a long lazy lunch and then sent all the superheros off for a quest for treasure...a mission enthusiastically accepted...

with tracks to follow...

Everyone helping out...

And sweet success!

But there were treats for the grownups, like the first BBQ of the year, loads of sweet herby grilled vegetables, lovely red wine, bread and cheese, all made more pleasurable by the unexpectedness of eating outside on a Highland April evening.

And treats for me - a wonderful felted bag, made especially by a very special friend, filled with all sorts of crafty goodness - including some easy threading needles, which apparently are very popular with older German ladies...well, scary to admit, but I think they might come in very handy...

Tomorrow I'm off for the best part of the week to help out at a L'Arche retreat. I have been busy making all sorts of things to help facilitate our days together. We are going to stay at a wonderful place near Perth called The Bield. I'm sure it will be a full time but I'm really looking forward to being part of it. Catch up with you soon!
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Friday, 17 April 2009

Happy Easter!

A Very Happy Easter to you! This comes somewhat belatedly, as rather symbolically, our computer decided to die on Good Friday, only to resurrect briefly, give us a few moments of hope, before decisively ascending to glory..well, I wish. And had I backed up all my work onto a USB thingy or some such sensible device? No, of course not...However, thanks to a beloved husband, advice of friends and one spanking new graphics card, we're back online!
Well, it was not all bad. Over our Easter holiday week we've welcomed friends to stay, basked in glorious spring sunshine and eaten vast quantities of chocolate, slightly offset by a few wee rambles here and there.

And although I was slightly miffed to have the last 5 minutes of Dr. Who cut off on the iPlayer, the lack of computer has meant time for lots of crafting, which is just as well, as it is almost someone's birthday...

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Thursday, 9 April 2009

Maundy Thursday with L'Arche

Today we met with the L'Arche Community for one of the most significant days of our year. We meet in the hall of a church in Inverness for a Passover meal of lamb, flat bread and 'bitter' herbs, to remember the last meal shared by Jesus and his disciples. We have readings and tell the story in a Jewish style, and then eat together in a (fairly!) quiet reflective way.

Afterwards we wash one another's feet. It's a very vulnerable thing revealing our winter-ugly feet to one another! But it is a sign of our openess to each other and our care for one another. Sometimes we get the giggles, sometimes it's a bit awkward, but usually it is profoundly touching and there is often a few tears...after our feet have been washed, we place our hands on the head of the person and thank them, maybe offering a prayer or blessing too.

Although the children have been before, this year they were old enough to participate and understand a little more. It was beautiful to see them take their place in the community.

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Sunday, 5 April 2009

40::40 Palm Sunday

The end of 40 Days of Lent, the start of Holy Week. Palm Sunday, the welcome of our humble and gentle King on a donkey.

For some beautiful and inspiring listening today (and for the next week only), Something Understood, on Radio 4, a reflection on the spirituality of hospitality, with lovely music and poetry and an interview with the founder of the L'Arche Communities, Jean Vanier. Do listen, if you can! He is one of the most gently inspiring men I have ever met, and has formed much of my understanding of community and living in general.
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Saturday, 4 April 2009

40::39 Held

Snapped late last night. For both of us it was a good place to be.
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Friday, 3 April 2009

40::38 Washed White

Oh Happy Day!
Thinking of my sweet Scottish grandfather 'Papa', who made an old hymn of this title his own, humming and singing it, in my memory, as the theme tune of his daily life. It was certainly the one of the first songs I ever learnt, on his knee. He and my Nana overflowed with joy and happiness, making love, faith and hospitality the hallmarks of their life.
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Thursday, 2 April 2009

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

40::36 Poisson d'avril!

Well it's April Fools Day, but the French have a lovely variation called 'April Fish' or Poisson d'avril. My Dear Husband remembers making paper fish in primary school and then trying to stick them on people's backs as a joke . Who knows why? And does it matter? I introduced the idea to my Spanish-speaking friends yesterday and we spent a wonderful afternoon making all sorts of fish from paper, card, beadws and fabric - and not just fish, but an amazingly gifted 5 year old artist made a great variety of sea creatures, and did her first ever sewing, which was great to be part of! We explained that you can use the fish to play tricks on people by putting them in funny places. Then we had a great time finding places for them around their house...

Where they made friends...

And swam all over the place....

Although my lads are not really crafty types (yet??) they loved finding them in the breakfast cereal box this morning!

And then after lots of jokes with Papa, kindly took their Poisson d'avril out for the day, climbing trees...

Giving them a share of the picnic..

I do think they had a great day. The boys enjoyed it too.

If you would like to see more fish from France and beyond, or print our your little poisson, go to this site where we have joined in the game. It's all in French, but you'll enjoy the artwork.

A bit of silliness is profoundly spiritual...

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