Wednesday, December 29, 2010

To the fair!

Got stuck into the kitchen again today - I was dying to try out the new electric beater I bought at the Briscoe's sale on Monday to replace my broken stick whisker. I've had it for 11 years and it's been my solitary baking device...I hadn't even realized I'd been missing out until I bought this new beater which has separate whisking and mixing attachments as well as dough hooks, on a 350W motor. Yay, so much fun! Having the right tools definitely makes a huge difference. I started with a batch of espresso shortbread which turned out superbly (thanks Genevieve - Nick likes them too), and then a batch of mini meringues. The boys were busy with Lego which Caleb photographed himself. After tea we took the boys to the Caroline Bay Carnival for the first time, officially. The rides looked like great fun if you have no aversion to dizzying heights or nauseating swirling; Aaron loved the Octopus but Caleb admitted later that it wasn't as much fun for him with Aaron next to him leaning out over the side. My boy, I shared your concerns! Bumper cars were next - this was completely Caleb's thing and he has the bruised back as a reward. Aaron was a little short to properly reach the accelerator so the fairground attraction jumped on to help. Nick and the boys couldn't see anything unusual about these clouds but I had sunglasses on - they almost looked oily with the rainbow of colours streaked through them.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pannekoek and lekker kuier

The weather did a complete turnaround today from yesterday - not only was it rainy and grey, but it was really really cold too! Winter woolies out the cupboard again, heat pump and long socks on. I had a few deliveries and errands to run early morning (one of them was to drop off a photo I took of a lady I met at the lunch on Saturday - such a lovely lady, it was a pleasure to meet her), and then we were home for the rest of the morning and early afternoon. The boys occupied themselves with Lego and reading for the most part, and Nick was at the office working. We were invited to join the Phillips family at Andreas and Danielle's home for pancakes at 4 pm, and Nick got back from the church just in time to head out again. Andreas' pancakes are becoming legendary, and he had made bobotie as well. Yes, we are all impressed. Petru and I broke out of our typically gentle and quiet elders' wives selves when the temptation of too many pillows lying around was too strong to resist, er ahem. After the Phillipsies had left we stayed on until surprisingly late; the boys found books to read and were amazing, keeping busy for hours while the grown-ups chatted. I'm still bowled over by the stunning view of Timaru the Bothas have from their lounge, conservatory, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom windows - they're on a bit of a hill with a 360 degree view of the town.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Home Alone I

I had the rare and wonderful privilege today of being home alone. Nick and the boys went to chop firewood and collect pinecones at John Wilson's farm in Waimate, along with Rene, Jesse and Samuel. They left at 9 am and got back shortly before 5 - it was a long day for them and they came back exhausted, Nick with a huge headache as well. (Photos from Nick - Rene in action and lunch break below).Meanwhile, I'd enjoyed a marvellously productive day with housework and church admin stuff and other to-do list bits and pieces - I get so much done when there are no interruptions!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Can we please come too?

Nick had the day off today as Grant preached in the morning and afternoon services - I don't think Nick knew what to do with himself in the early morning with not having the usual pre-service prep to do! After the morning service I invited ourselves around to the Phillipsies for guava tart - I like to extend the opportunity to others to practice hospitality :) They couldn't possibly turn us down and we wouldn't have taken no for an answer. We took whatever was available in our fridge for instant eating, and within about ten minutes of arriving, lunch was ready. It was rather a grand spread for such an impromptu meal; we feasted on cake, salad, fruit, bread, sausages, tart, custard and cold meat - no need for individual courses! And we were quite a merry party too - Petru's parents are visiting from SA, and Andreas and Danielle were also present (well they actually got invited like regular guests). Had a jolly good time of fellowship, mostly in Afrikaans. We just listened along carefully and laughed at the right places especially when they were talking about Apple Jews in China. Ja, swaer. (Above: Danielle, Erin-Marie, Tannie Ria and Dannica singing the grace in a round with the men).
Got home after pm church and remembered that we had run out of milk, so Nick and I took a quick walk to the BP garage (they have a regular special on milk and although it's less special than the corner cafe near the school, it's still more special than Pak'n'Save). Instructed the boys not to do anything fun while we were gone; they were jumping on the tramp when we got back. But they didn't choke, drown, poke their eyes out or set the house on fire in our absence.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Lunch time

Happy Christmas everyone! Had a reasonably relaxed morning before getting to church at 9.30 for our service. After church we rushed off to the Bay Hall for the big Jericho Trust Christmas Day Lunch. I've alluded to this several times without much detail; Jericho Trust is a non-profit organization run by a couple in our church and a few others who use hospitality and catering as a means for outreach and fundraising for missions. The Christmas Day Lunch is for shut-ins and the elderly and lonely people, or anyone in the community who wishes to attend. It is run on faith and donations, and the Lord really blesses the event from year to year. We had about 250 guests, some of whom were bussed in from various old age and care homes, and enough food for probably double that amount. There was a bit of live entertainment (Nick and I did an item between courses) and Nick shared a brief gospel message, although it largely went unheard with all the clinking of bowls, shuffling, chatting and a pair of shrieking children (not mine) in the corner. The meal was a good success though and we met several lovely people. By about 1.30 it was all over...and then the clean-up began to get the hall back to its original empty state. All the cutlery, crockery, tableware, left-overs and everything had to be taken back to the Moore's home where all the Trust stuff is kept, and all the non-dishwasher stuff washed and dried. Wow, that was a big job but the many volunteers tucked in and by 3.30 we were finished...5 pm saw us at the Camerons for a combined left-over tea event, together with Rachel's parents and brother and his family, and another family that they have known forever who have two of the cutest girls you ever saw. The long wind-less day lent itself to some backyard v-ball; the Cameron men against the Clevely men. There was also more gift-exchanging and we were too polite to query the present of a big bag of popcorn kernels, which made sense when the second box was opened...yay! Thanks again Camerons for a chilled end to a busy day.

Friday, December 24, 2010

First NZ Christmas

Did the absolutely final bits of shopping at the Warehouse before nearly having a panic at the time and how much there was still to do in the, cleaning and all that important stuff before relaxing into the weekend. We started our Christmas Eve celebrations early (directly after lunch, in fact), so that the boys could have their new scooters at the skate park while we were busy with preparations at the Bay Hall during the afternoon. I lent my hands to the dressing of tables; Nick was multi-purpose (ie I'm not sure exactly what he was doing, but he was busy) and there was much cooking in the industrial kitchen in readiness for the next day's lunch. All very exciting as weeks and weeks of planning finally came together. Got home in plenty of time to start the pizza dough all over again (the last batch had gone hard in the oven instead of slowly rising) and clean the house before we adjourned to the lounge for the Official Gift Opening. With just the four of us it was all over pretty quickly but exciting for the boys all the same. Spent the rest of the evening skyping our families and watching a DVD in between, ending up in bed quite late!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Remember this

7.30 am...a good time for grocery shopping. Pak'n'Save wasn't as empty as I had hoped but there weren't the usual crowds either. I don't like to be rushed when I shop - one can't easily decide between the tinned, bottled or boxed tomato paste when desperate housewives are trying to aim their trolleys past the solitary stationary one. Today I went with bottled, as well as tomato ketchup AND tomato sauce. The luxury of choice! By 9 am I was home, the groceries were unpacked and everyone had managed to get their own breakfast. It was so early that I still had time to bake date squares, brownies and granola bars before attending the funeral service of John Corder, aka John the Cleaner - employed at TCS for several years and well known to many of the children. You may recall that we visited him at the hospice a few weeks ago. The school did a tribute to John in singing Amazing Grace, and Grant managed to share the gospel in his 3-minute spoken tribute.Matt needed Nick's help with hay making in the early evening - they say you should make hay while the sun shines, and this was certainly a good opportunity. Took our hotdogs over to the Camerons and ate during a break in baling.And finally, today marks our one-year anniversary of leaving St Helena Island. We looked back at some photos of the occasion and got very sentimental and teary. To the blog-readers on the island, hello and we miss you! You are all still very dear to us and definitely not forgotten.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cutting up and down

Nick and I took an early walk across the road to the garage for milk. It was a beautiful morning, mild and still - just warm enough for short sleeves. An hour or so later the wind had blown clouds in and we had some rain and chill. But no matter, not too long after that the skies cleared, the wind started up again and we had more hot, blustery weather with strong nor'westers. I decided to crack open the Christmas cake today and oh wasn't quite what I had expected. Definitely edible though and I'm sure I can fob it off onto hungry guests so on the whole it is good. Aaron tells me he's "never been a fan of fruit cake, no offense though". None taken, small boy. Nick left soon after the cake cutting to get the car serviced and retreaded; another thing off the to-do list. After lunch I decided to finally do something about the dark diningroom. We have a window which looks onto our neighbour's house, separated by thick foliage. The trees had grown to a point of blocking 90% of available light and with their branches touching the window there was the most awful shrieking during the wind. Enough. Got the saw and the neighbour's permission; thankfully Nick was available to lend a hand as well with the bigger branches. Turns out that was the easy part though - we have a huge pile of tree debris nearly blocking our front path now! Still contemplating what to do with it.
After tea we made another attempt at a family photo - we really have been struggling with the timing of this seemingly easy job. Found a lovely location but the wind was still strong and at 7 pm, the sun still too high, so this is what you get:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Herald Angels extol Elmo?

Got some errands and deliveries done in the morning, then dragged the boys with us to town for a spot of Christmas shopping. It's painful hunting for shoes with two young males in tow (even though the shoes themselves were very comfortable) so we were more than happy to finish shopping in the afternoon when the boys were safely installed in a friend's house for an afternoon of fun (being an excessively hot day they thought a water fight was appropriate). Made sure all the presents were wrapped before going back to collect the boys, and we have deviously coded the pressies instead of tagging them properly so the boys don't know who gets what - makes the guesswork so much harder! Hee hee...we're mean parents.
Attended a gold-coin donation Concert at the Bay after tea but left after the first two sets, having no appetite for boogie woogie carols, Elmo's Christmas and songs chronicling Santa's escapades. Was a great set-up though and a very family-oriented event. The day's gale force winds had mostly died down by the evening to a strong breeze and it was good to be outdoors for a short while.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Appropriate Christmas decorations

First proper day of school holidays, yaaaaaaaayyyy!!!! Now what to do? I think it's very wise of the NZ government to start the summer holidays so late in December - this way all the little children don't have to hang around for ages waiting for Christmas to happen. It's just so much harder to occupy time when you're anticipating some exciting! Got the boys busy making some decorations for the house - paper chains were easy, and then while I was doing some polymer art they made a nativity scene. Although no one can distinguish between the wise men and their gifts, the results were pretty good. Once the things were baked Caleb got them set up with polystyrene findings and grass, and so we have our first home-made nativity scene which I imagine will be displayed for many years to come! The rest of the day was superbly productive for me, especially getting through the huge pile of ironing. Nick had a visit in the morning and a meeting in the evening, but he will be taking some time off over December and January as well.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The First Noel

With no Sunday School during the holidays we didn't need to get to church at the usual 9.30, although because Bronwyn and I needed some extra music practice we arrived at the normal Sunday time anyway. Services were good. We were home for lunch; the Kempfs called in for a cuppa before the afternoon service. Jesse and Sam didn't even make it as far as the front door - the trampoline is too strategically placed! Our afternoon service was a carols service and Nick preached a short message on "The Angels' First Christmas Carol" - imagining how the angels would have sounded, how glorious their song of praise as they sung with comprehension of the glory of God come down as a baby; the true meaning of Christmas was certainly not hid from their eyes. Christmas has been hijacked in so many directions - we are told that St Nicholas was a good guy and should be happily placed alongside Jesus; Rudolph and his red nose are repeatedly serenaded while we all dream of white Christmasses and presents under the tree. Christmas is, and always has been, about Jesus - His birth and the unfolding of God's plan of redemption.
With this in mind we were cautious in attending a carols concert at the Theater Royale in town after church, but it made for a novel (and free) outing.