Friday, 27 June 2008

Easy Lemon or Lime Cheesecake

I first tasted this at a friend's little girl's birthday party last Saturday, and fell instantly in love!!!
The beauty of it is that it really is incredibly easy to make, and tastes deliciously light, citrussy, tangy yet also soft and creamy...Hmmmmmm...Utterly divine... Hurrah for lemons!!!

mix the following and press into an 8inch tin with removable bottom
1 pack ginger biscuits crushed
50g butter, melted

mix and spread on top of biscuit base
500g mascarpone
Grated zest and juice of 3 or 4 limes or lemons
2 tblsp sugar

Chill for a few hours before serving. Done

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Looking for Ashford Hill...Photos

As promised, here are a few pics taken on yesterday's little ramble. Most of them are nothing to write home about, but I just like the British countryside in early summer and wanted to capture some of that. The foxglove and thistle pictures came out especially nicely, even if I say so myself... I know. I have a 'thing' about wildflowers!
Do you blame me???

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Looking for Ashford Hill...a Parable

Unusually I had a spare morning on my hands today, as the 2 excercise classes I normally take had been cancelled.

My 3 boys safely dispatched, I decided to take myself off for a walk; packed a rucksack with essentials such as a camera, a notebook, my devotional notes for today, a drink, my iPod and a roll of toilet paper (believe me, those who know me will not be surprised... I have a fairly small and impatient bladder. 'Nuff said...)

Now, Ashford Hill is a tiny little village just 2 or 3 miles west of where we live, and we often drive there to walk up into the woods, especially in early spring as the woodland ground is carpeted in bluebells... There is a cute little country pub there, but most importantly there is a nature reserve which would take anyone's breath away! And I've known for a while that it was definitely accessible by foot. In fact a friend confirmed this a while ago when she told me it was her dog's favourite walk destination! She even described to me how to get there, and ever since, I have made attempts to get there -
And failed.

My sense of direction is pretty much non-existent, and maybe that's why I am so good at reading maps - I really cannot cope without maps! I LOVE maps!!!
Stupidly however, I do not own a footpath map of our little corner of Britain. So my attempts to get to Ashford Hill were always doomed to fail.
Until today.

I set off, as I have done in the past, determined to find the way to Ashford Hill, map-less but carrying every other essential on my back. Including toilet paper.
I got to the field at the end of a woodland path, where several options presented themselves. I knew which path would lead home, and which didn't. I took that one, as I had done previously, hoping that somehow I would end up going in the right direction. I was wrong. I took several paths off that main one, and had to come back on myself several times.
I ended up in the same field once more.
Tired. Hot. Fed up.

I prayed, "Lord, this is really frustrating now! Please help me find the way...!"
The next thing I knew, a friendly gentleman on a rugged bicycle appeared from out of nowhere, and asked me, "are you ok? Are you lost?"...
After wondering for a few seconds whether to just ignore him or to acknowledge his question, I replied that I was looking for Ashford Hill.
He pointed to a big open path behind me and said, "follow this path all the way down to the bridge, then turn right, and you're there!"
And with that, he cycled off, and I did a 180 degree turn. There was indeed a pretty obvious path which I had never noticed before.
I walked down this lovely, easy path, and 5 minutes later I had reached the Ashford Hill National Nature Reserve, the one I had been looking for for months.

God really spoke to me this morning.
I always pray when I'm walking. It's a time when I can really commune with Him.
So before setting off today I had asked Him to reveal Himself to me, and to speak to me in whatever way He chose. I was feeling quite gloomy, and discouraged, and far from Him. And the fact I couldn't find this wretched path was making it worse.
I had pretty much given up, when out of the blue this man showed me the way, and then it seemed so straightforward!

God said this to me, "this is what happens: you try so so hard to find a way through things, through difficulties, through life on your own, in your own strength. But all that happens is that you end up lost, fed up, and scared. Ask me for the way, and I will show you. It might not be a path you imagined, you probably didn't even know that path existed. But if you ask me, I'll show you. And then it'll seem like the simplest thing in the world, because it is my path, my way, and I'll walk it with you."

PS: photos in next post!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Spiced Ribena Toast and Microwaved Dinosaurs

1 l. Ribena or similar
1/2 l. sugar-free pink grapefruit squash
1 whole bottle mixed spice
1/2 bottle best-quality vanilla essence
1 slice of bread
1 plastic dinosaur

(for best results, ensure Thomas is fully in charge)
Pour entire contents of the first 4 ingredients into a Dualit toaster
Add slice of bread - make sure it is pushed in as far as possible
Finally place plastic dinosaur into microwave oven, and microwave on full power for as long as possible.

(NB: Daddy arrived before any lasting damage was achieved... Added to which Tom doesn't yet know how to use the microwave. But at least, the kitchen smelt nice.)

Here are the empty bottles - just to prove it. Although: did you really need proof??!

Thursday, 19 June 2008


I'm sorry...
I'm going to scream:


(OOOPS apparently I swore as well...)

Aaah. That's better.
My apologies, blogworld!

I will elaborate in my next post, with the hope that, by then, I will have gained a little perspective.
Suffice to say for now that I'm not particularly enjoying parenting my 7 year-old at the moment.
For those of you who pray, PLEASE please pray for a breakthrough - instead of a breakdown - in my relationship with my eldest son. I love Sam, but he is driving me to distraction. It's tough. Full Stop. Period. Whatever.

* Well it would seem that there has indeed been a turnaround since I wrote this, which was only last night, but feels like forever ago.

I guess with ADHD, there is a lot of unpredictablility. And I'm having to learn to cut Sam a bit more slack than maybe one would under different cirumstances.

So after posting the above, I was desperately praying for some answers. And unearthed the wonderful book on ADHD by Dr Christopher Green, called "Understanding ADHD". What a godsend, and what fount of wisdom!! After reading the chapter on 'Encouraging self-esteem' I realised where I had been going wrong. It's an easy, typical, well-known parenting error...

I had recently become totally bogged down by Sam's negative behaviour, and his persistent refusals to cooperate with anything I was asking of him; and in doing so had stopped looking at all the positive stuff, all the praise-worthy aspects of his behaviour, of which there are many - many more than I give him credit for... I had even started putting him 'down', and attacking him as a person, sometimes calling him 'stupid' - which is a NO-NO in parenting at the best of times!!
Oh my how I've gone wrong!!! I felt really convicted reading this and felt I needed to say sorry. And I have turned over a new leaf, as of this morning. It feels like night and day. He told me 'I love you Mummy' at least 5 times today. We have laughted, tickled each other, and been really good friends.

I will write more some other time about this wonderful, amazing, bright, big Sam of mine. But for now, all is well, and there is definitely healing in the praise of a child. God is so gracious!!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Tom and the cars

I just LOVE the way Thomas has of arranging his beloved cars into such beautiful, symmetrical patterns! Genius!!
What a proud boy. Can you see the pleasure etched in his whole demeanour? So pleased, so delighted in his artwork. And why shouldn't he be?!...

I also love the way he has of playing with his cars for hours. He treats them a little like kids; he talks to them, tells them off if they've been bad, cajoles them, kisses them better if they're hurt. He breaks off fights, takes them out on trips...etc. And I never tire of watching him at play work play. It is amazing - and amusing - to see that look of deep, pure concentration on his face:
Of course he gets fiercely protective of his cars and this is what happens if ever Sam or Ben should venture into his room and dare to try and join in with his game:
Yes. Our Tom is passionate about his cars. And he is fast when he needs to be: 'mineminemine!' 'Goway!' 'My cark!'

So watch out..

Saturday, 7 June 2008

My Life in a Nutshell - May

April 28
Rachel is wondering whether to hide her belly button.(12:32pm)
Rachel is feeding Ben cucumber... horrid stuff that. (12:55pm)
Rachel is tired, hungry and smells of poop. Tom's poop. Eeeek...(5:30pm)
Rachel has been potty-training Ben for nearly one week and is proud of her boy :) (6:48pm)
April 29
Rachel feels all wrong this morning.(8:29am)
Rachel is eating rice cakes slathered in cream cheese, in bed..., having just done 2 hours of intensive exercise. Hmmm, that's better!!! (11:53am)
Rachel is outraged by the rain. (5:19pm)
Rachel has a really irritating tickle at the bak of her throat, and it's making her cough!! Bummer... (6:39pm)
Rachel is utterly exhausted and is totally going to bed. (10:33pm)
April 30
Rachel is melancholy.(2:16pm)
Rachel is finding it all a bit confusing...(3:54pm)
Rachel is almost faint with hunger and is waiting to go out for some yummy grub. (7:22pm)
May 1
Rachel is hanging out with God. (1:23pm)
Rachel is hanging out with God and drinking sweet tea... (2:00pm)
Rachel is now wondering what to cook for tea... Any ideas for some simple grub which doesn't involve frying or grilling something or other?? (2:58pm)
Rachel has decided on Pizza. (4:08pm)
Rachel just bit her tongue very hard and is in pain :o( (6:01pm)
May 2
Rachel is thinking it's time for breakfast. Porridge this morning! (7:53am)
Rachel is pining for some time alone and away from it all... (2:35pm)
Rachel is wondering whether it's too early to put Ben to bed...? (5:00pm)
Rachel can breathe again, now Ben is safely tucked in bed. (6:19pm)
Rachel feels aliiiive!! Bring it on...!!! (7:53pm)
Rachel had a little too much wine and needs to SLEEEEEP... Aah, wine is bliss!!! In moderation OBVIOUSLY. (11:57pm)
May 3
Rachel is vaguely pondering career options... (6:51pm)
May 4
Rachel is liking being warm. (1:52pm)
Rachel is baffled by her 3 year-old's obsession with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. (3:27pm)
Rachel survived playing keys in church today, and even wants to do it again...! (9:57pm)
May 5
Rachel has stuff to do. (10:04am)
Rachel has been busy doing stuff and now has rough hands. (7:19pm)
Rachel has just baked and iced a yummy cake, just because there was no cake left. (10:11pm)
Rachel is struggling to keep her eyes open...and is full of yummy cake. (10:45pm)
May 6
Rachel has a headache and wants to eat more cake, but really shouldn't. (5:09pm)
Rachel is really sticky. (7:07pm)
May 7
Rachel is delighted by a sudden turn of events: it's HOT!!! (1:43pm)
Rachel thinks Ben is probably helping himself to custard. (6:02pm)
Rachel has sheets to put on a bed before she can sleep tonight. Oh dear. (7:25pm)
May 8
Rachel is relieved. (6:56am)
Rachel is treading on eggshells: it's that time of day again!! (5:16pm)
Rachel is feeling headachy and nauseous which is never a good sign... (6:12pm)
May 9
Rachel loves the summer - and it's come early!! (2:08pm)
Rachel will most definitely go for a run tonight, but it needs to cool down first... (5:39pm)
Rachel is stunned by how self-centred people around her seem to be... (8:56pm)
Rachel has a craving for cake. Again. Just as well there's a birthday coming up...! (10:02pm)
May 10
Rachel is planning to really enjoy her birthday week end! Looking good so far... (9:45am)
May 11
Rachel is a day older than yesterday - and celebrating with salmon... (1:54pm)
May 12
Rachel got a book on porridge for her birthday. (9:29am)
Rachel is thinking the clouds in the sky should not be there. (1:29pm)
Rachel has a fat tummy from too much cake. (3:54pm)
Rachel doesn't know what to 'cook' for 3 children who hate most things. (4:15pm)
Rachel is cooking fish-bl****-fingers again!! (4:24pm)
Rachel is chilled out. Panic over. (6:05pm)
Rachel has suddenly become aware that her cravings for cake seem to occur at about the same time every evening. (6:59pm)
May 13
Rachel did nearly 3 hours of exercise this morning, and would now like some cake. (3:55pm)
Rachel has no cake in the house so is eating chocolates. (4:36pm)
Rachel is off to band practice - if the car doesn't run out of petrol that is... (6:54pm)
May 14
Rachel has a messy house but will not be defeated. (2:16pm)
Rachel is really really shaky - it was the press-ups wot did it!! (5:14pm)
Rachel has red toe nails and feels like a proper lady! (7:00pm)
May 15
Rachel is too sleepy for words... (2:07pm)
Rachel nodded off temporarily, only to wake up to a nasty yukky surprise... Any guesses??? (4:06pm)
May 16
Rachel is loving life, even though it's flippin exhausting... (7:09am)
Rachel needs to get practisin. (3:48pm)
Rachel is gonna get crafty - but for now needs to go and break up an impromptu water fight... (6:32pm)
Rachel has just cracked open a bottle of red wine. Just because. (8:23pm)
Rachel has very poor resistance to wine... One more glass?? Could be dangerous. (8:54pm)
Rachel thinks it's time for bed, after 2 glasses of wine - can hardly type straight... Pathetic!! (10:54pm)
May 17
Rachel feels irritable and irritated. (7:38pm)
Rachel can't believe it was 2 hours ago that she turned on the computer... My oh my where did the time disappear?!? Bed-time methinks. (9:43pm)
May 18
Rachel is going to Dogma!! (4:57pm)
Rachel has a poorly tummy :o( (5:33pm)
Rachel didn't go to Dogma... (7:30pm)
May 19
Rachel thinks she's getting fat. (5:32pm)
May 20
Rachel is gonna hang out with God for the next 2 hours. (2:22pm)
Rachel is eating chocolate cake before her tea... (5:33pm)
May 22
Rachel is feeling inadequate. Yep. That just about covers it. (9:46am)
Rachel is grateful that it's half term v soon... (6:41pm)
May 23
Rachel is so tired she could sleep for at least 24 hours right now... (6:06pm)
Rachel is feeling poorly. And just wants to go to bed... Typical start to the holiday then. (7:42pm)
May 24
Rachel has been awake since about 3:30 and is not a very well bunny. (5:15am)
Rachel thinks it's about time she got a proper holiday and is hoping France might be just that! (8:57am)
Rachel has packing to get on with, but is going to have a nap first. Then go for a run. Then pack, a little. Then eat. Then finish packing. Hopefully. No more updates! (2:29pm)
Rachel is wondering why iTunes isn't loading... (7:33pm)
May 25
Rachel is looking forward to some yummy French cheese, PROPER croissants fresh from the bakery, wine, etc... Hmmmmmmm..... (3:09pm)
Rachel is expecting lots of welcome back messages when she returns to Facebook in a week...s'gonna be tough!! Bye, people... (11:04pm)
May 28
Rachel managed to connect her laptop to her Dad’s internet network in France. Can’t get rid of me that easily. Yeee-hah!!!! (11:05am)
Rachel is NOT washing up! Now THAT'S what I call a holiday...(7:53pm)
May 29
Rachel is thinking it's about time to call it a night...! (11:30pm)
May 30
Rachel is having a really frustrating day, all because of a blocked sewer and some naughty French cowboy plumbers... (2:15pm)
Rachel is utterly exhausted from doing...well not very much, really! (6:44pm)
May 31
Rachel is having a much better day today :o) (10:02am)
Rachel is about to eat one heck of a meal...!! (6:56pm)
Rachel is full. (10:07pm)
June 1
Rachel is home from France - hurrah for school!!! (Sorry all you teachers out there; please still be my friends). (5:57pm)
June 2
Rachel slept from 20:00 to about 6:30 this morning. That's an insane amount of sleep... So how come she still wants to sleep?? (1:48pm)
Rachel is wondering who will write the 500th post on her wall?? (5:08pm)
Rachel is oh so very very ready for her bed. (10:41pm)
June 3
Rachel has a heavy heart and is praying for this family today: (2:57pm)
June 4
Rachel is delighted to see blue sky again...!! (6:53pm)
Rachel is gonna have some melon. (8:05pm)
June 5
Rachel has got the paddling pool out!! First time this year... (2:55pm)
Rachel is feeling low... Don't ask why! (5:33pm)
Rachel has been feeling unusually light-headed for the past 2 days and doesn't understand why... (3:14pm)
Rachel is under strict doctor's orders to do nothing for the next 48 hours. Won't argue with that...!! (6:15pm)
Rachel has BPPV. (9:57am)
Rachel is discovering more and more annoying little silvery threads running through her hair. (10:46 am)

Rachel is grateful for simple things, like melon, cake and reading in bed. (9:59pm)

Friday, 6 June 2008

Goodbye Coye!

Long time no...nothing. Or at least it feels like a long time. Since I've posted here. Since I've felt I had something worth writing about.
I'm sorry if you visit here from time to time hoping for something new, and have had nothing much for the last few weeks!
I will post another one of my "Life in a Nutshell" offerings very soon, for all it's worth.
Meanwhile, here is a selection of nice shots taken during our last ever stay in Coye la Foret. Coye is a pretty little village not far from Chantilly, just north of Paris (France), and it is where I did most of my growing up, from 1980 to 1996. Mum and Dad have recently sold the house, and will be moving in the summer. So it was my last opportunity to snap away, in an attempt to capture something of the essence of my childhood home, and my children at play there.
Needless to say I am very emotional at having to say goodbye as it's a rather odd combination of grief mingled with excitement... The memories are so precious, but it's the right time to move on. God is good!

For more lovely photos, go here and here.