I simply want everything I do to be an act of worship to God. ********************EVERYTHING******************** like a spider's web, intricately woven, the threads of our lives are entwined, making us who we are, where we are, at this time in history.... here's a small record of one family's journey to love God

Saturday, March 31, 2007

T can turn 3

No-one has been allowed to tell T2 that her birthday is in *x* days...just in case I didn't get her quilt finished -she would never know if the big day was five days late! But as it turns out, I'm done in plenty of time. Plus I've almost done one for ER (10mo) with the leftovers.

I put it on the bed along with lovingly-homemade-rescued-from-the-op-shop-for $3-dolly for a photo shoot before all being packed away for another two weeks.

As I was making the quilt T2 was hovering around:

T: Who's that quilt for Mama?
Mama: For a little girl
T: ER is a little girl
M: Yes she is, isn't she

An hour later

T: Actually (pause) I think the quilt's for me. For mine birthday.
M: Do you? Do you like it?
T: Actually I do. It's quite nice.
That's fortunate!!!!!! And I'm sure she'll like having her *own* dolly complete with a dress and a pinafore and a lace-edged petticoat and bloomers.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

no post today

I'm too busy finishing a quilt
and dreaming BIG dreams

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

a memory verse

over and over and over

T2 sang her version

of Psalm 139:13

yesterday afternoon

you knit with me
in my mother's room

It's not too dissimilar to the "real thing", is it?

"You knit me together in my mother's womb."

who said little kids can't memorise Scripture?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

some things make me angry

and this is one of them

A small Canadian company with no experience in mining decides to take over a village in Romania and blast the place with dynamite, leaving cyanide polluting the air and waterways, with total disregard to the wishes of the approximately 2000 inhabitants, who are in the process of being relocated to an uninhabitable valley with no water. For goodness sake, these guys are subsistence farmers, they need water and arable land. Oh, and did I mention they are doing this illegally?
And why? For Money. Well, gold, to be precise, but ultimately it's greed. The churches and cemeteries, cultural and archaeological treasures, natural features are all of no worth. Five mountains will be blasted away. A massive dam containing the toxic waste will be constructed. All for the sake of money.

Well, it might not. There is huge resistance and I am hopeful for the people of this region that Rosia Montana will remain. I hope the young lad who bought some mountain bikes and is trying to set up a tourist venture offering mountain biking tours is successful. I'd like to think the people attempting to engage in agro-tourism will attract people to see their villages, which are essentially a live working museum - these people are living exactly as their forefathers lived 200 years ago.

Of course I am aware that this may be of absolutely no interest to anyone reading my blog, but just in case someone wants to know more, you can go to Rosia Montana itself and to no dirty gold and here is a detailed analysis of the situation including some hopeful alternatives for the people of the region, and a simple outline by Friends of the Earth, and this link takes you to a site devoted to "changing public policy and mining practices to ensure the health of individuals, communities and ecosystems in Canada and around the world".

Some old prophets had some sage advice:
"Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor" ~Zechariah 7:9-10

"What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" ~Micah 6:8

Monday, March 26, 2007

how do you fit everything in?

For as long as I can remember people have asked me how I get so much done. Whether it was *way back* when Father Bear and I were working 7am-noon, studying fulltime (lectures were in the afternoons and evenings) and tutoring refugees and running Children's Church....or more recently when people have seen through my blogs a bit more of my day-to-day life....the questions have not stopped. Maybe one of my problems is that I have so many things I want to do, crafts I want to try, places I want to visit, books I want to read, children I want to cuddle, things I want to think about......there's always something on the go.

So for those of you who have asked.....here's a *typical* day for me.

If I want to exercise or have some quiet time to myself, it needs to be over and done with by 7am when the troops file out of their bedrooms eager to start their own days.
We all start with breakfast and then before we get down from the table, we revise memory verses and sing songs together - and during this time I sneak in the first knitting or embroidery.
Then I supervise chores, checking up what's been done and lending a hand.
As jobs are almost being finished I get a snuggle with ER as I change her nappy, blow raspberries on her tummy and pop her into bed.
While she sleeps for a couple of hours I read aloud to everyone else. Usually someone is on my knee or slouched over my shoulders or braiding my hair - I do love this part of the day!
We all head down to the dining room and I play games with the little ones and supervise the writing of the bigger ones. While the biggest (who work independently) continue with their own work, I help the preschoolers set the table and the slightly bigger ones make lunch......this invariably means sitting in a chair and giving verbal directions (which means I can again pick up some knitting for quarter of an hour).
After lunch the big ones clear up and throw together dinner while I read picture books to the little ones (at the moment this is baby-6year old). Then it's naptime! And that means EVERYONE has to do something quiet for an hour or so. The big kids and I race upstairs to the computer and spend half an hour updating blogs before some silent reading (and on my part) sewing or scrapbooking or sorting out dinner if it wasn't done earlier. The afternoons are pretty laid back - when the little kids wake up everyone is more or less free to do whatever they like, but I will of course keep an eye on them. I usually manage to get some more *stuff* done - I'm always aware I could choose to wash windows or iron shirts, but I rarely do at this point!!!!
Late afternoon we all tidy up (although I am renowned for not tidying up whatever project I'm working on....it stays out for a week or more till I move on to something else), I supervise afternoon chores, baths and final dinner preparations.
After dinner I get little kids off to bed....then middle kids....hopefully all accomplished by 7:30ish. Then there are another three hours for me to potter. I don't watch television. I try to use this time doing things that need concentration and leave the more mindless parts of work to when I need my attention divided in the daylight hours. If I'm tired this is tricky and I'll just end up knitting or reading. We often have people over or go out with others - after reading about women throughout history getting together with their workbaskets, I decided it is a relatively new idea that you should sit together doing nothing but sip coffee and chitchat, so I now don't hesitate to pick up some embroidery or simple knitting (and having my hands busy helps me not eat the yummy chocolate cake that might be on offer for supper!)

Of course, not every day is like this. Some days we head out to the garden first thing and put in full morning's work...other days we go out...occasionally my arm is twisted to read "one more chapter" and "just one more chapter" and then "one really last chapter this time Mama"....or last Friday we got the wooden train set out and everyone spent hours putting it together while I read a book to myself - I was tired; tired of being a mother, tired of doing the same things every day, tired of the normalcy of life, tired of not seeing Father Bear (on average we're only managing two nights a week home together at the moment and then we're so had it we're not connecting), tired of cooking, tired from staying up late, tired of ideas racing round my head, tired of not accomplishing anything tangible....just plain tired. So I rejuvenated myself by letting the kids do something that almost always results in them playing nicely together while I snuggled up on my favourite chair beside them all. It worked. And now I'm way off on a tangent, but I'll leave it in here, coz It's The Way It Is.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

simply beautiful

After sewing my skirt
I have decided once again
that I actually quite like sewing!
I don't like hemming - but my skirt didn't have a hem

I'm thinking of making something a little bit like this.....not for my little girls.....not even for my big girls......but for me. I don't see why not! Maybe you will tell me that it's really too fussy for an adult and a Mama who has had eight kids should steer clear of two layers of fabrics over her hips and I've got enough clothes now and I'm not *that* kind of person....I might listen;-)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

do it anyway

After posting about big dreams, I spent the evening trying to work out where they all fit in to my life. Even if they *should*. I hardly slept a wink....thinking thinking thinking.

This morning I felt inclined to sadly throw them all away.....then tonight I went to "visit" MamaMonk....and she had posted these lyrics:

Do it Anyway: Martina McBride
You can spend your whole life building something from nothing
One storm can come and blow it all away

Build it anyway

You can chase a dream that seems so out of reach
and you know it might not ever come your way

Dream it anyway

God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good
And when I pray it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway, I do it anyway

This world’s gone crazy and it’s hard to believe
that tomorrow will be better than today

Believe it anyway

You can love someone with all your heart,
for all the right reasons,
and in a moment they can choose to walk away

Love ‘em anyway

God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good
And when I pray it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway, I do it anyway

You can pour your soul out singing a song you believe in
that tomorrow they’ll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway, sing it anyway

I sing, I dream, I love, anyway

Thanks MM

Friday, March 23, 2007

rushin russian

Just took a test to see if I'm barking up the wrong tree to be considering heading towards Europe....

You are 94% Russian!

Great job!!!!! You did WONDERFULY!!!! Nice try!!! Were you born in Russia? How do you know so much about it??? Well, good job anyway!!!

How Russian are you?
Quizzes for MySpace

Could that be a divine sign? heehee
need to stop rushin.....and take time to become russian!

(thanks blackpurl, an American family living in Russia)

on the move

I've just read Slice of Heaven in the past 24 hours.

A family from New Zealand with four kids under five (just like us....well, like we used to be) travel and live. This book introduces the parents and focusses on the family's time renovating and living in a schoolhouse in Italy and then establishing a semi-self-sufficient paradise in Nicaragua before returning to NZ for the birth of their fifth child. Next stop, next book, France.

I thought it would make my feet itch....and yes, it did.
The author's hope "that our story has served as some inspiration for you to pursue your dreams, no matter how 'wild' or 'wonderful'" was fulfilled!

So what am I dreaming?
*of visiting family in Malaysia again...and getting Chinese names for our last three children
*of spending a year living in a yurt with a community in outer Mongolia
*of travelling around England and Scotland with father-in-law too, seeing "where we came from"
*of taking a cycle tour through Holland (well a cycle tour anywhere would be good, but Holland is flat!)
*of visiting friends in Romania
*of settling in Poland again for some time
*of living for a year on every continent (you gotta dream big!)
*of setting up a website to record our journeys, document our philosophy, share photos and ideas and experiences and recipes and travelling with big families tips!
*of somehow making this all of benefit to *the poor and disadvantaged* SOMEHOW
*of making use of our quasi-famous status (they noticed it with four kids in the book - with twice as many children, we notice it EVERY time we go somewhere new)

And what are the children dreaming?
*well they want to come to Mongolia.....and horse trek down to the Great Wall of China (they are more adventurous than me!)
*they are keen for us to renovate a totally dilapidated 200 year old castle we've seen in Poland (as J12 said, "Well we've done up the houses and that was fun, this would just be bigger" - yeah about twenty times bigger!!!!)
*they want to live on a houseboat
*they want to live where it snows

And Father Bear?
*The England Trip was his idea
*he occasionally talks about "a trip across America"
*there is definitely a close connection between Malaysia and his stomach!

At one time we owned only what could fit in a backpack. We were so unencumbered.
Now we are loaded with stuff - in spite of consciously trying to live simply.
We might live off one income and eat beans three or four times a week - but we are rich. Just because we know people who have two incomes and eat meat every day, does not mean we are poor! We have an income - that's more than a lot of people. We have beans AND meat - that's more than lots more people. We have food EVERY DAY - three times a day. We have shelter. We have clothing. We have a motorised vehicle and pedalpower too. We have running water, hot and cold. We have a washing machine, a refrigerator, a kitchen mixer with all sorts of attachments, a lawnmower, a television. We have toys and books and tools and games. We have two toilets, two computers.

I am not ungrateful for these things. I don't feel guilty about them - though I do wonder *why me?* Why are we so blessed?

I just don't want to spend my life sitting here *enjoying* them. I want to use them. (Of course we lend out our books and people borrow our trailer and we give away excess produce from our garden and kitchen, we are able to have people stay with us....but I mean something more than that.)

I am keen to take the children to *experience* a different life - hence the Mongolian yurt.
I'd love to be self-sufficient....Eastern Europe is a cheap place to get the land to try that out! (crikey you can buy a castle on a few acres for next-to-nothing!)
I long to be unencumbered again!

Our wedding invitation talked about us being "gypsies for Jesus", and for the first dozen years of our married life we were continually on the go. For the past five we've been in one place, living in the same house. Not so much gypsy, but still for Jesus.
I wonder if we'll pack up again and be on the move.
We won't hitch-hike across Europe. We won't carry a tent to pitch wherever we can.
But we could adventure. We could journey.


I am not just me, an island in the ocean, disconnected from other people.
I have others to think about.
The things that I do with the children could be done anywhere in the world.
But it's not just about me and the kids either!
There's Father Bear.
Father Bear has a job.
He enjoys his job.....it's satisfying, it's the job he dreamed of doing, it pays the bills (and he wisely points out we would still need to eat wherever we were travelling), it's a job that wouldn't necesarilly wait for him if he traipsed around the globe.
He works with people who appreciate the input he has into their lives - he serves people who don't have others to turn to. So it's not just about Father Bear either. It's about the people he works with, the people he helps, people who have sometimes come from very traumatic situations and are trying to settle in NZ.
So while Father Bear would enjoy having more time with his own family and would certainly enjoy taking a break, he would miss out on an important part of his own life. He would also miss his friends, his church community, his extended family, his sports games.
And the reality is that right now we are so busy doing stuff here that we don't even have time to dream about doing anything different!

Now back to the book......I found it to be inspiring and interesting and totally fascinating. I was aware my kids would probably love "the island life", but I have no desire to do it myself. It painted such a picture of Italy that I have a never-before-felt desire to go and live there (but we'd live in a trullo!!!!!)
I loved the book - well, no, not the book really - it's the people - for their determination to bring up their children so intentionally. It was great to read of someone passionately living their beliefs.....daring to be different.
But at the same time, I came away with a feeling that *something* was a bit futile. I can't put my finger on it. It certainly wasn't their aspirations for their kids, it wasn't the great delight they take in good food, it wasn't the fact that they didn't *do* the work themselves....what was it? I really don't know.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Mama was sitting right at this very table.....but she was distracted.....making her bead handles....and look what I got into. When she finally noticed, she quietly stole away to fetch the camera and snapped a few shots before I noticed.

mY mAma lOVes ME sO mUuch!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

busy busy busy

I've filled a whole album with photos for my eldest daughter...and haven't made a dent on the photo pile!!!!! But it feels good to be underway.

I'm on a knitting bender....longies for ER, a soaker and hat set for a charity auction (watch this space), two pairs of slippers lined up to supervise, lots of socks to make.

The sewing pile is looking decorative in the bedroom until I attack it next week (we're going to have a "holiday week" and the kids will look after themselves while I sew sew sew)

The winter clothes are all sorted and the boxes stacked away again.

The house is even mostly tidy.

The garden is doing a final burst of fruiting before we need to replace old summer stock with winter yummies.

Charlotte's Web came to the end and we're adventuring back to Germany and the advent of the printing press.

ER10mo has finally learnt to crawl....FAST....and even up stairs.

The eldest two are making a special-order-muesli to go to Wellington in a couple of days ~waves at Sharon~

Another couple are making a pumpkin soup out of our first pumpkin this autumn.

I've painted beads to make a handle for my knitting bag. It's sooooo close to finished and I'm really pleased with it (apart from the fact that it shrunk really quickly in the machine and came out shorter and shallower than I wanted)

All the little things of life are going on.

Monday, March 19, 2007

A Little Blood Test

so that's me eh?

intricate and simple : home soul AND conqueror
Sofisticat....something went wrong there! Putting your kids' artwork on the wall is sofistaNOT!!
NEW WAVE PURITAN - yeah that sounds like me!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Winter Wardrobe

A couple of chilly mornings this last week prompted us to drag out the winter clothes today. With the exception of a few things that need to be lengthened, the boys' clothes mostly fit still (they were on the big side last year - heehee). We have fabric to make them each a pair of pants and a vests and some polarfleece for a tracksuit, so I won't need to buy them anything apart from boots.
The girls are equally well set-up......I just need to do some knitting (YAY) and sewing (not quite so YAY) and mending (not at all YAY), then they'll be right too.

It will be of absolutely no interest to anyone reading this, but I'm putting in my work list here so I can keep track of what I need to do.

Mending List:
J12: tear in trousers
K8: purple fluffy vest seam * add layer to maroon pinafore
ER9mo: hem gingham skivvy * hem red skivvy * shorten rose tea dress
J11: lengthen jeans * lengthen sleeves on flying shirt
L6: mend hole in mickey mouse pants
M4: mend hole in mickey mouse pants!!!! * lengthen jeans * lengthen sleeves and body of flying shirt

To Sew From Scratch:
J12: fleece flower top * fleece striped pants * good dress set
K8: fleece GIRLS pinafore * fleece striped pants
T2: fleece patched swing top
J11: black cords * blue fleece pants * blue and orange fleece sweatshirt
K9: aqua cords * striped fleece track suit
L6: black cords * black/aqua reversible fleece vest * jungle sweatshirt with orange pocket * orange pants with jungle pocket
M4: aqua fleece pants * black/aqua reversible fleece vest * jungle tracksuit with blue pockets

The plan for the fleece sets is for the older four kids to make their own (with some help from Mama of course). J12 has already made some of her own clothes (as well as some for her siblings - all sewn by hand!) and the others right down to L6 have all done mending, so I have high hopes for them!

Knitting projects:
2 pairs of longies and a cardigan for ER
Felted slippers for everybody (J12, J11, K9 and K8 will each knit themselves a pair and a pair for a little sibling too! The little kids can decorate theirs with pompoms they make or embroidery)
Socks for everybody

And yesterday I finished a skirt for ME. It might be a couple of seasons behind in terms of *fashion*, but I made it coz I liked it and I hope to still be wearing it when I'm eighty years old!!! It's pink and natural and romantic and beautiful and 100% quilter's cotton and totally *me*

Friday, March 16, 2007

did you meet?

I met some great gals at the Ultimate Blog Party....and as I didn't do my intro post correctly, I'll mention Susan and Janice at 5minutesforMom now!!! Thanks for hosting a wonderful party.

Did you meet any of these girls?

First of all, there were my REAL LIVE MATES who you can see in my sidebar! They were there.

I met someone who promised a bed to me-n-mine if we ever make it to Russia (which we'd love to do....when I tried with my hubby seventeen ago they wouldn't let us in.....then we *sneaked* across the Border Which Had Fallen Down in the Mountains for a photo op when living in Poland, but that's as close as I've got so far!).

Amy has three little ones under four and another on the way - my exact situation eight years ago, so I felt an affinity with her....plus I'd LOVE 160 acres!!! (or even ten!)

I have always wanted older women to teach me what they knew...and I found one who wants to!
Plus she loves weeding and cherry tomatoes!

And of course there was Heather......can't miss her out, coz she generously offered a prize, which my other blog was fortunate enough to win!

That's only half a dozen people, but I do prefer a small party to a big one!

Friday Favourites #4

favourite present
favourite year
favourite photo album
favourite memories

one year we were given a ZOO PASS for Christmas.....the following year we visited often.....we still drag out the album and "reMemBer whEn".... click for closeups

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Money doe$n't grow on tree$

We've been out all day and I won't have a moment to *write* anything (plus I bought some BRAND NEW fabric and I'm itching to cut it up...yeah, I know I wasn't meant to be buying anything *new*....at least now you know I'm not being legalistic about it!)....anyway, I took a squizz at my docs and found something that I wrote a while ago and can cut and paste (oh yeah, I have to cross out my hubby's name and replace it with Mr Bear too!!) For those of you who have requested a post on finances, here it is! It only just starts to scratch the surface, so if you have any questions, feel free to comment and if I can't answer them, I'll find someone wiser who can!

This is the text of a little chat I was asked to do at a Church Youth Group gathering one evening in 2005, the general topic for the night was stewardship, my Ten Minutes was to focus on stewardship of money:

My qualification for talking to you about stewardship of money tonight is that I am helping my husband bring up seven kids on one income – and a tutor’s salary at that! First piece of advice: if you want to get rich, don’t go into education.

Let me start by telling you a story.

Once upon a time a girl made a lot of money one summer holidays…and God challenged her to only keep 10% of it.
A boy had met this girl and realised it was no ordinary girl he was asking to marry him…and God challenged them both to sell everything they had and follow His leading to Europe. Two days after their wedding they left.
In Poland they learned to live simply. There was no car, no tv, no cellphone, no regular phone at all, no computer, no coke; in fact drinking water was collected from a well up the street and they slept on straw mattresses on the floor.
God showed them a different way of living.
They returned to New Zealand and had $30 to their name.
Six months and a lot of hard work later they were both enrolled in a post-graduate diploma at university – debt-free. Lectures were from 4-9pm so they were able to work from 7-12 in the mornings and study in the afternoons. Somehow they managed to tutor refugees as well.
They studied and worked for a couple of years, having their first baby just before final exams.
In spite of them giving away a lot of their money, God blessed them financially and the dollars started accumulating in the bank, so they asked God what to do with it.
BUY A HOUSE. But they didn’t WANT to settle down with a house, a 25-year- mortgage and 3 kids and become like those thirty-somethings they knew! They wondered why the Old Testament talked about seven year debts and decided to go for that! So with the maths worked out, the girl went to the local real estate office and asked what she could buy for $100,000. The agent smiled pleasantly and noted, “You must be looking for land?” You needed another $30,000 to buy a house. Boy and girl decided to build a house, so they purchased the cheapest section they could find in Nappy Valley the day after their second child was born.
They built for $95,000 all up.
They had a very tight budget. Every cent was accounted for, right down to the $2.36 spent on screws for the letterbox they made themselves. There were no Christmas presents that year.
As the boy’s salary increased, they basically retained the same budget. It got tweaked a little as more and more children joined the family. Seven of them in fact. But after eight years, the mortgage was gone. Now they have added a personal spending category to the budget - $10 a monthJ
And they are living happily ever after.

In Poland we had learnt the joy of living simply – taking walks in the park, having cherry stone spitting competitions in the summer, watching pigeons on our balcony, reading together, playing in the snow, cooking food from scratch……… back in New Zealand we have had to learn to be intentional about simple living. There are just so many choices here. It is no accident that we have one vehicle, make the children share bedrooms, use cloth nappies, grow most of our vegetables and have a home-based life. We are living simply by design within our means, treading gently on the earth (now there’s another stewardship topic) and are content doing so. As pilgrims, we know what we value as we journey together towards our eternal home.

When "R" asked me to talk about stewardship, Mr Bear and I brainstormed what we had learnt about it over the years. Here’s a very quick summary:

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” *Everything* we do has to stem from our love of Jesus – and that includes our stewardship of money. It’s not just about budgeting; it’s about LOVING AND HONOURING GOD.

And it’s about CONTENTMENT.
“When God gives any man wealth and possessions and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work – this is a gift of God.” I love this verse from Ecclesiastes. It reminds me that God is the giver. He is the owner and I am just to take good care of that which he has entrusted to me. God gives and Loreal is wrong – we don’t deserve it! But we will be blessed and experience true freedom if we can enjoy what He has given us and be happy in our work.

So it’s also about WORK.
“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works” (Eph 2:10)
In a generation that seeks pleasure and is prepared only to work enough to pursue entertainment as much as possible, we will need to carefully consider God’s plan for work.

And there’s another point. We need to be AWARE. We’ve got to learn to think and be discerning. We need to recognise the trends in society and the tugs they have on us. We can be helped by reading such books as Marva Dawn’s “Unfettered Hope” and the Mennonite book “Living More With Less”

One of the trends today is instant gratification, but we need to learn to be PATIENT. How will we learn to wait on God if we can’t wait more than 60 seconds for our dinner to be made and served? And as far as money goes, advertisers tell us we can have things interest free and not pay till next year – but we need to say NO to these things and wait until we have the money. Save up instead of buying on credit.

Another trend is towards selfishness, each man doing what is right in his own eyes, and just looking out for himself. But God wants us to be GENEROUS and give to others. God loves a cheerful giver.

And look at the trend planned and built into our gadgets – perpetual obsolescence. We always need a newer, smaller, faster computer, cellphone, car. Do we even question these purchases? Do we ask how we will be better able to serve others through their purchase? Do we ask how we will better be able to serve God?

Finally, can I encourage you to be FANATICAL? Mr Bear and I spent the first dozen years of our marriage trying to convince ourselves that we weren’t extreme – we were normal, like everyone else. OK, so we knew we were a bit different, but not *that* different. Now we are reconciled with the fact that we are extreme and supposedly unbalanced, opinionated and intense. If you want to be hot for God you are going to be different. It doesn’t mean He’ll give you seven kids and require that you bake your own bread, but it will be a special plan that is far from mediocre and almost certainly counter-cultural. Will you be a good steward of your money for God’s sake?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

two husbands and a little brown dress

I came across this gal last year and fell in love with her absolute wacky devotion to an idea!!!! She wore ONE dress for a whole entire complete year...that's ONE dress, one little brown dress.....every single day. I'm not about to go and throw away all my clothes, but I am always thinking about

how little do we need?
how do we reflect ourselves through our clothes
rather than being what someone in Paris decided
three seasons ago
that we should be this year?
how can we be modest AND modern?
how can we support small businesses instead of sweatshops?
how can we be producers instead of just consumers?

It seems to me that Little Brown Dress Gal thinks similarly...and after her little brown dress project she moved on to another. She's only wearing things that she has made herself. Yes, right down to her undies and swimming togs, shoes and backpack.
I find this to be truly inspirational. But I don't intend becoming a cult member and following this guru! Although I'm not actually far away - I have made undies this year, I've made bags, I haven't needed to wear my store-bought swimming togs coz I haven't been swimming (not all summer, how sad is that!), and I've made myself some new clothes (in brown, what's more):

The pants are a blast from the past. I made my first pair with Suzie way back in the early nineties in Poland. Although I haven't worn them for a few years I haven't thrown them away and they remain the most comfortable pants I've ever worn. I guess making them now was (apart from being a nostalgia trip and a desire to be comfy) a bit of a statement about wearing what I want and not what is on the racks in the shops! I'm like that.

And see my sandals? I've looked at them very carefully! A piece of timber, some non-slip stuff on the bottom and some leather straps rivetted on the sides. *I could make that* And I just might when these eventually die - coz these have been the most comfortable shoes apart from the pair I had custom-made and wore almost every day for nearly 15 years before a strap broke. The custom-made shoes might have cost $100 (an awful lot of money twenty years ago when you could buy shoes for $10), but over 15 years that works out at less than $7 a year for a wonderfully-made perfect fit that was crafted locally from leather. When I need to replace my boots I'll be going here and hoping that they bring out a range of shoes like my old ones too.

Now one of the things I like about the internet is that you can always find someone who is just as crazy as you are - or even more so. I'm not alone in my thinking. I discovered someone else was already talking about this! If you want to see what they had to say, go here or in Search of Ethical Gladrags.
And My Friend Who Is Very Like Me yesterday chatted about why she doesn't really like the mall, which is all a continuation on the same theme. I could have written her last two paragraphs! But I didn't, so I won't get criticised for saying something so extreme (heehee) - after all, I'm only putting a link to it;-) And I have a Husband Who Is Very Like Hers too! Uncanny.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I'd rather be.....

.......well, doing anything NOT in the kitchen!!!!!! Cooking is not my fave activity and I've just done a cooking post and it seems so....flat and downright boring. I mean to say, beans, chickpeas and a handful of lentils, just don't do it for me! (or the men who routinely eat at my dining room table I might add!!!!)

So I browsed through my photos....and came across these bits I picked up at a second-hand store.

one lovely little homemade dress with tiny red roses on it...unfortunately it probably won't fit ER(9mo) by next summer but it was just so cute...and HOMEMADE and if I have to cut it up to go on the red shirt with the scalloped collar, so be it...it is such a dainty pattern; it'll get used for something.
the white shirt with one big red flower will need to be remade....will it go bigger for J12 or smaller for K8?
and the red-n-white checks with a couple of cherries....well, that just matched!

AHHHH, now that feels better. So much more inspiring!

Do you remember me getting the big*bargain*bit*of*fabric?

Now look what can go with it - the little pink ruffley skirt will become one layer in a multi-layered skirt with lots of ribbon-n-rick-rack-n-broderie anglaise. The green and white check pants will be attached to another zillions-of-layers-skirt for the bigger of the two girlies...again with lots of fun sewn onto it. Plus I picked up a bright apple green artist's shirt to go with it for a couple of dollars. I feel an applique coming on!
Some of the other things I'll pick to pieces and just use the fabric or little flowers or ruffles (like that teeny tiny green and white check shirt that won't fit anyone unless we have another baby before next summer!!!!! *laugh*choke*chortle* BTW, you'll have to click on the photo to blow it up and see the gorgeous wee gingham buttons and delightful little flowers on the shirt)....the dress in the top left-hand corner is absolutely funky, but it doesn't fit my biggest girl and is waaaaaay too big for the only other one. I don't really want to remake it into anything else because it's just perfect as it is.....now *that* is a much more interesting problem to be pondering that *what are we going to have for dinner tonight?*

The Cat in the Hat Comes Back

Well maybe not the cat in the hat....more the pot in the bag!
We've been having a great deal of fun and experimentation with our cooking bag.
But not everything has been a roaring success. We tried sultana bread. Once.
We'll have to try again - and the kids won't mind coz they really enjoyed eating it for breakfast the next day plastered in custard!
The worst thing about the bread episode was that I burnt three blankets - yes scorched them black. Obviously, the towel I had put in on previous occasions had been a good idea...and I'll continue to use one forevermore! In fact I might even make the internal bag out of a couple of layers of towelling.
But now for the things that HAVE worked.
First of all there was rice. (oh and I need to say, my recipes are always very vague - you can use as much or little of just about any ingredient! mostly it's a matter of what's in the garden!)

Abundant Garden Bake
Kumara, thinly sliced (or potato or turnip or parsnip or swede or pumpkin or a mixture)
Onions, finely chopped
Garlic, finely chopped
Other vegetables, thinly sliced (cabbage, zucchini, peppers, carrots, eggplant, beans, celery or whatever you have)
Tomato puree (or leftover meat sauce)
Cheese, grated (optional, but tasty!)
Either plonk everything in the pot or layer it neatly. Bring to the boil and boil for a few minutes to make sure it has heated right through. Pop in the cooking bag for a couple of hours or longer.

Spaghetti Sauce
2 onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, grated
4-6 cloves of garlic, crushed
2T olive oil
Saute until tender
750g mince
Add and cook until brown
225g tomato paste
2 cans chopped tomatoes
2C (real homemade!!!) beef stock
1/2C parsley, chopped (or other herbs)
Add and bring to the boil - boil for a couple of minutes before putting into the cooking bag. We have left ours in the bag for anything from 1-6 hours. Often we use lentils too in addition to a smaller quantity of meat or instead of the meat.

Saucy Beans
2 1/2 C dry beans, soaked overnight
3 1/2 C tomatoes
1/2 C tomato paste
4 T molasses
2 T olive oil
1 T sea salt
2 T honey
1 t dried basil or a handful of fresh
1 large onion, chopped finely
Bring to the boil and boil for 35 minutes. Finish off in cooking pot for...how long? We have put them in just after lunch and they are ready in time for dinner. I'm not sure how "short" a time you could get away with (I read somewhere that beans need 3 hours in the cooking bag/basket/box)

Stewed Apple
Chop up apples and bring to the boil in a pot. Transfer to the cooking bag and they'll be done in less than half an hour. I promise they will not stick to the bottom of the pot!

Bean Bonanza
3C beans, soaked overnight
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 chilli, finely chopped
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1C beef stock (optional)
Chorizo sausages or salami, sliced
Bring to the boil and boil for 35 minutes. Put in your cooking basket and leave for at least 3 hours.

Chickpea Spaghetti
1 large onion garlic
2 stalks celery a couple of chillies
1T olive oil or coconut oil or butter or a mixture
a handful of mushrooms
1 capsicum
4 large tomatoes (or more if you have a glut of them!)
2 cups tomato puree lots of parsley
lots of fresh basil
1 t marjoram
1 t oregano
1/2 t paprika
salt and pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
4C chickpeas, soaked overnight
Add and bring to the boil. Boil for 35 minutes and put in cooking basket for an additional 3 hours.
350g spaghetti noodles
Cook. Spoon sauce over a bed of spag and garnish with parmesan cheese if liked.

Chicken Stew
You can adapt any of your usual recipes to this method of cooking. Fry up your chicken pieces first, and then add any other ingredients you might like (chicken stock, garlic, onion, ginger, chillies, apricots or pineapple, carrots, potato....whatever you like....but not quite as much liquid as you would usually need) and cook for a further 15 minutes. The pot will then need an hour in your insulated cooking contraption.

Chicken Base Soup
(OK so I haven't tried this one yet, but I'm sure it will work and I want the recipe here with the others!)
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
Choice of vegetables: potato and leek * squash and sundried tomato * carrot * mushroom * winter root veg * fresh pea OR split pea * tomato-dill * garlic * curried parsnip and apple * pumpkin *
Seasoning to match vegetables
Chicken stock
2C cream or coconut cream
Bring to the boil and put into cooking bag.

We tried the Njahi on the cooking in a basket blog. It made me realise that even our "simple" meals here are actually quite complex. We ate this, thinking "it's nice.....but not as the main dish....it needs a little curry on top and a salad on the side"!!!!

Monday, March 12, 2007


Have you noticed that little ticker I've got in my sidebar?

Can you believe that many plastic bags have been consumed this year? What happens to them? Where do they go? Well, if you click on the ticker it'll take you to a site that has pictures of where some of them end up - polluting the earth.

I first started thinking about plastic bags when I lived in Poland back in the early nineties. You had to buy them. They didn't come free. Just like everyone else, we bought a wicker basket and used that for doing our shopping. Almost twenty years later that same basket is going strong, and it's never broken spilling its contents onto the ground, and when it eventually does die, it can go into the compost and help my grandchildren's veges grow!
(there she is on the left)

Sometimes it used to be a bit of a squeeze to get a week's worth of food from the market into the basket...and now with another eight mouths to feed, it's impossible. So I've made a whole lot of bags, which we take when we go out. They are a talking point and I can spread the word a wee bit.

At first my kids weren't too sure. But they have noticed the ticker. They cannot even imagine how bit the number has got to now - it's much bigger than a million;-)
We worked out what our little effort can do.....if we were to get six bags at the grocery store and another four at the vege shop, then another couple later in the week for more fruit and a couple from the butcher and then three or four more for gifts or clothing or books or other random purchases we might make and one or two from the dairy....that's potentially twenty bags a week. About a thousand bags a year. And we're only one family.
So now my kids have joined me on the crusade to use reusable sustainable natural bags. Our favourites are the ones we make from clothing that has been worn out, but I'd really like to buy one of these recycled juice bags that I've seen at Trade Aid. At first I was put off by the $30 price tag - but if we stopped buying plastic bags at 10c a bag (not to mention the hidden costs of disposal and the longterm nightmare they present), we would save $100 a year and could instead put our money towards supporting some families in the Philippines who are getting a fair wage for making these. WIN-WIN

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sunday Sentiments

I sat in church this morning, mind wandering....

could we make it more "participatory"?
could it be truly intergenerational (actually interactively intergenerational - not just that people of different ages sit in the same school hall!)??
could we *respond* to what we are hearing???

I wondered if perhaps "the Sunday morning service" *needs* to be more-or-less as it is each week....but if that's the case, then I want to do some of those other things at other times. Would our small group that meets alternate Tuesday nights be a good time? We have an older couple, a bunch of 30-somethings, some 20s and a gazillion kids from baby to old-enough-to-leave-home.
Then I thought if they're not game to try some of my wild and wacky ideas, what's to stop our family from giving them a go....

Some were really simple, like "Reflections"
On a table (or the floor even) place a large bowl full of water. Give everyone time to look into the bowl (perhaps while supper is being served or while we sing some songs together).
Discuss what we saw when we looked into the bowl - even the youngest children can take part in this.
Have someone read Proverbs 27:19 "As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man" *give time to digest and think*
Discuss some more. See where the conversation goes! Gee I'm postmodern ain't I!!!!!

And another that would require a bit more organisation: "John 15"
Read aloud the first seventeen verses of John 15. Yes seventeen whole verses!!!!
Then everyone gets a little terracotta pot and paints it with images from the reading that they would like to remember/think about some more (things like vines, branches, gardener, love, fruit etc)
While the pots are drying, share with each other what you painted and why.
Finally fill the plants with some potting mix and plant some seeds.

Again, the kids can be totally involved, but it's not something that an adult couldn't benefit from at the same time.

When we have one of our shared meals I thought we could all bring bread enough for our own family, but nothing spread on it.....I would provide a big pot of organic raw honey and some honeycomb too. We would slather our bread with this yummo treat and then discuss the following verses:
Proverbs 25:16
If you find honey, eat just enough - too much of it, and you will vomit.

Psalm 119:103
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.

Psalm 19:10
The ordinances of the Lord are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.

Proverbs 25:27
It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to seek one's own honor.
In my head, that one's called "Sweet as Honey"

Idea number 3: "One Body"
Get a hold of one of those cardboard models of a skeleton that you can put together....or a big lifesize puzzle....or even just a poster to look at (though *making* things would be much more interesting and also good to work together).....or draw around the outlines of the kids on big pieces of paper and let them fill in the bones and muscles and organs etc as we all talk.....then read either 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 or Romans 12:4-8 and let the conversation go! (for those of you blog-readers who are not Bible-readers, or who don't have a Bible, I'd be happy to type out those passages and send them your way - just leave a comment)

#4: "Blast (on the trumpets) from the Past"
Around the house, set up four music stations, probably in different rooms!
i) have musical instruments to play (or at least some craft supplies to make some shakers and bangers)
ii) have a selection of CDs and headphones (it's OK to do things individually!!!!!)
iii) have a pile of papers and pens (all sorts of different inspirational ones as well as plain ol' white!) for people to write their own song
iv) have a stack of hymn books and other music books (anyone remember "the blue book" and "the brown book" from the eighties?) for people to leaf through and find something inspirational or shocking and in need of critique!
Everyone would do their own thing for a time - either alone or in little groups or little kids going with an older person etc, and then you'd all come back together and share - worshipping God together.

"The Workers Are Few"
First of all everyone would draw a picture of someone they know who does not know and love Jesus. Then there could be a presentation (don't ask for details yet - DVD? photos? video? - there must be some promotional ones out there somewhere for various missions agencies!) of various "fields" around the world that are "ripe for harvest".
Read Matthew 9:35-38
Spend time in prayer for "the lost", for ourselves as harvesters, for other workers and as Jesus told us to, for *more* workers.
Is there anything there that the kids couldn't do? Is there anything that's too baby-ish for the adults? (OK so drawing might threaten some of us, me included, but I do like Pictionary!!!)

Are you still reading? I've got ideas for "A Running Race" and "Charades" and "You Are the Light of the World" and "Easter" too, but I think I've written enough!

BTW, I didn't think of them *all* during church; I came home and let my mind keep wandering. I asked God to help me think of ways to make the Bible memorable and ways to actively respond to Him beyond the moment-by-moment service.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


I love my cloth nappies.
I like that they are soft.
I especially like the ones made from bamboo - it's a sustainably-grown product that requires no pesticides, uses very little water and grows fast....not to mention the anti-bacterial qualities it has.
I like that they are safe (there are no dangerous chemicals right next to bubba's skin).
I enjoy the sight of nappies floating in the breeze.
I love the smell of freshly-laundered naps.
I appreciate using something that I have made....both the nappies and the covers to go over them.
I enjoy the creativity of making them.
I'm pleased they won't go into landfill when we're done with them, but can be used as rags or turned into something else.....or even passed on to another generation (imagine doing *that* with a sposie!!!!)
I love using wool - it doesn't need to be washed often, and when it does all it takes is a swish around in some warm water with some lanolin soap, it is breathable, it is natural, it's available locally, it looks gorgeous, it's warm in winter~cool in summer....what could be better?
Best of all, there are no leaks!!!!!

If you're really not interested, I've probably lost you already, but if you want to see just how cute a wee bot can be, look at these clever little slideshows......

But they're not all light pink - I've done some brights and dark ones too......

(oh, and do you like the knitted basket for my reusable cloths? ~ very first photo up the top)

Friday, March 9, 2007

Friday Favourites #3


I love finding spots to take a photo of all of us that are a bit more interesting than a straight line or higgeldy-piggeldy bunch.
This maze was one such place (though unfortunately Dadda is behind the camera this time):

And I love getting the occasional cute photo of *just one* child too:

These photos will always remind us that we went away with good friends (hi family E - have you told Mr E that I blog yet? he'll be so disappointed!!!!!) for a long weekend and they all got sick so we came home early - but on the way we stopped spontaneously at the maze...and then wandered round steaming mud pools in Rotorua....watched tourists roll down the hill in the Zorb....and stopped for mega-massive icecreams at Pokeno.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Blue Baganza

What do you do when you have no computer for 24 hours, the kids cook dinner (stew with dumplings followed by pavlova with blueberries from J12's bush) and Father Bear comes home late?

You line a bag you knit last year just to finish it off....this side was inspired by Kaffe Fassett

but crikey, I couldn't be bothered with all the wool changes so the other side was inspired by the New Zealand almost-icon, the koru....symbol of new life.

I even put pockets in the bag - hardly necessary when it's so small, but I just worked out how to do them tidily so it's a bit of a novelty!

Then you make up an entirely new bag, making it up as you go along. Only problem with that is the cool little vintage button I found that would have been *perfect* didn't fit the buttonhole - ah well, never mind.

And you put those funky little tassles on the back to so as to use them all up!

Again, lots of pockets inside!!!

Do you think I could sell this on ebay? I never have anywhere to go that I could take this!!!! I only ever take a big nappy bag or a little nappy bag!!!

If you can't see the pictures too clearly, remember you can click on them and they'll blow up to fill your screen so you can see every wonky seam and every dropped stitch.

Oh I nearly forgot to say these bags were made entirely of leftovers...from our couch upholstery, from the bumper on the children's ancient cane pram that they sleep in when they are newborn, from the BLUEquilt, from a "set of sewing bags" and from all sorts of knitting projects....it's great to use up odds and ends. The bamboo handle was the only *new* thing, but even that was an op shop find.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Dye-ing Days of Summer

Although the sun is shining brightly, the kids are still swimming in the pool, we don't need duvets on the bed and the cicadas are still buzzing, the leaves on the plum tree are turning red....the days of summer are dying.

And I have spent a summer day dye-ing:

This wool says alot about me!

I'm from New Zealand, the land with more sheep than people!
I can knit - I couldn't always do so, but a friend taught me last year and there's been no looking back.
At times I can be very spontaneous. Just before lunch I decided to dye this and it was done before the kids had sliced the bread!
I have too many projects on the go at one time! (I should never have started dyeing my stash of cream wool until I'd used up the coloured stuff I have hiding in baskets!)
I have a stash of wool;-)
I am always a bit tentative about trying something new - but my friend (hi Lou!) was right, it *was* dead simple!
I love adventure.
I jump into things eagerly...and sometimes find myself in a tangled mess!
Making bright pockets of sunshine in the daily monotony is important to me.
I like memories.

This wool was going to be called "Sunny Days at the Beach"
then "Sunflowers Against a Summer Sky"
now.....it's too precious for either

L6 brought me a bunch of flowers he'd picked for me and he looked just like the wool.

I wanted to capture that moment of a gift freely given.
Now I want to do something with that wool that will be a reminder.
Not a crocheted photo frame;-)
I thought "memory basket", but I don't know how that would work!
And there's not that much wool, so it'll have to be something small.
What do you think?

I offered to make something for L6, something specially for him.....but what he *wants* is slippers for winter made from green orange and red to look like traffic lights!

vow of silence

Do you have trouble with your tongue?

I do.

And this last week has been particularly bad. When I've not been saying things that I simply *shouldn't* have, I've been saying things that were not intended badly, but were interpreted so (on four different occasions) and the net result is the same.

As I read about a monk's vow of silence, I decided that would be truly helpful to me! While Father Bear might appreciate the break, the Baby Bears still need Mama Bear to communicate with them, so I came up with a modified Mama's version....for the rest of this week (if I can make it that long), I'll endeavour to only say what is necessary. This is not a legalistic weight to tie around my neck, but a determined effort at reining in my tongue; I don't enjoy correcting my daughter for a demanding accusatory tone of voice she learnt from me!

Monday, March 5, 2007

it's party time

I'm not really a party girl....so why am I here? Coz when there are two conversations going on a in a room I never know which one I really want to listen to and I usually try to do both (you don't want to miss something, you know)....and some of my best friends are at *this* party so I really don't want to miss out on anything they have to say!

Oh, and March is the *only* month we don't have *any* family birthdays!

So come join our conversations this week.....click on the pretty picture in my sidebar to find out more.

BTW, I'm a Mama in my mid-30s with eight kiddos from baby to 12 and a fab hubby too.
My interests are wide-reaching (just take a look at my profile), I dabble in a bit of this and a bit of that, excelling at nothing, but enjoying the journey! If you can stay a wee while (I've only been on this blog lark for a month now so there's not too much to see), feel free and take a peek at the things I get up to and the thoughts I muddle through.


Saturday, March 3, 2007


I went out for nearly 12 hours today. on.my.own.
It was so refreshing....to not have to talk, to have no questions to answer, to not have to get meals when other people's stomachs were hungry, to not have to make decisions for other people, to not have to supervise chores, to not think about the two loads of washing, to not have anyone argue with me.
I got home in time to snuggle newly-bathed fresh-smelling children who were actually happy to see me. That's always nice.

For about three years now, my hubby has given me a whole day to do what I like with three or four times a year. Often I use the time to do some thinking/planning or running round shops to check out what clothes are available before taking the kids along with me - today I hit a few second-hand shops and picked up some great gifts and clothes (some of which will be remade into something new) and baskets and tins to finish off the games cupboard. I read some books (see the gardening blog!) and designed the embroidery pattern to go on a knitting bag I'm making.

Next weekend hubby gets his turn - he'll probably have a very different day to me. For a start, he'll hang around home for quite a while (I used to try to shoo him off, but I realise now that because he doesn't spend as much time here as I do, he doesn't feel the same urge to get away), he'll probably play tennis or squash with someone, he's bound to go to a movie with someone else and is very likely to go out for dinner with his Dad. People definitely energise him!

Friday, March 2, 2007

what made me use plastic boxes?

Double-post today for those of you who heard about and wanted to see a piccie of the bags I made this morning.

While the children were baking bread/making muffins/playing board games I decided to tidy the games cupboard. The games live in plastic boxes, most of which are falling apart.....so even though I love the way they stack, I decided to say goodbye to plastic and let my creative side have a bit of fun making an eclectic collection of fabric bags. Three down....lots to go! And slowly the fabric boxes empty (actually, we're only just getting to the point that the lids can almost go *on*!)

This one is made from old leggings, the sleeve of a tshirt, some freecycle material and some "leftover stripes":

These ones are recycled serviettes from a thrift shop, and the patchwork one is lined with an old shirt (front and back views):

Friday Favourites #2

On occasion I've said I'd LOVE to have a cellar full of produce we have grown and preserved. Noone realises I'm serious. The man of the house here will sometimes walk past the other side of the kitchen bench, getting lower and lower with each step he takes till the kids all know he's "downstairs in the cellar" now!

As for me, I do what I can.....a straight row of sauces and chutneys (chilli-kiwi is my favourite)

....and the fridge top is covered with jams ~ strawberry ~ pear ~ rhubarb ~ plum and apple ~ pear and ginger and almond ~ apple and plum and grape and blackberry and strawberry (that one is sooooo good, even if it was just leftovers of everything!)

Actually, in spite of not really being a kitchen person, I quite like making them (chutney and relishes I've been doing for a few years now, jams I just learnt to do this summer when we still had plums left after eating as many as we could and giving plenty away) - it's a job you do once and then don't need to do again for some time! And you can see the results of your labour....day after day. Plus it's great to know just what has gone into each jar.

And the spiderwebs....we love them too!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Down the Garden Path

I was going to post something on here about gardening and then realised I had lots of ideas running round my head, not to mention the need to write a "TO DO" list and notes on scraps of paper in various piles that need sorting and snippets of info that I'd love to remember and photos I want to *do* something with......so I started a new blog!

Wander on over and take a look if you like.....http://down-the-garden-path.blogspot.com/