Sunday, 16 December 2018

#Pause for Advent 3

Pause in Advent

Collect for the Third Sunday in Advent

LORD Jesu Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee: Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
The first time I heard this collect, as in "hear, mark, learn and inwardly digest", was only a year or so ago. It struck me then that quite a duty is being laid upon the "ministers and stewards of thy mysteries". To begin with, I assumed these are the Vicar and the Curate, and maybe the Churchwardens. A little more thought and I realised that all of us who follow Christ, who believe in the Holy Trinity, who worship God, are included in "ministers and stewards of thy mysteries".

And who are "the disobedient"?

This looks like a call to all of us followers to reach out and share the Good News.

Today I also read the fourth Chapter of the Gospel of St John. I was feeling a little 'off' as yet again I had nearly, but not quite, made it to the 9am service. I could have got there... and then I didn't.

This is the chapter where Jesus meets the Samaritan Woman at the well. The encounter ends with these words from Jesus, ('The Message' version)

File:Icon of Agia Fotini-Pachia Ammos-Lasithi-2.JPG
19-20 “Oh, so you’re a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshipped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?”
21-23 “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God’s way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.
23-24 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”
25 The woman said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.”
26 “I am he,” said Jesus. “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”

The two main thoughts I had on reading this were

firstly that getting to church every week wasn't the main thing to aim for (Phew)

secondly - this is the Good News!

Sunday 16th December - A Quiet Day In

I haven't been indoors All Day - no, I have stepped out into the garden twice; once to clear the leaves from under the apple tree to see if the snowdrops will be in flower for Christmas Day, and again, later, to take a photograph...

Here they are! It is four o'clock now, and the light has faded, so the buds are not very easy to see,

so here's a flash photograph so you can see the first buds more clearly. It always amazes me how the leaves of bulbs will grow through the dead oak leaves lying on the ground, making holes in them. I'm not sure what is more surprising - that the little snow drop leaves are so strong, or that the fallen leaves are so determined not to move out of the way.

I've been sewing all day. When the house is full I have found it is the path of least resistance to bring a little Windsor chair into the sitting room and sit there - but then I have nowhere to leave the book I am reading or the knitting that is in progress, as a side-table would be sorely in the way. Brainwave - I have converted three rather unloveable cloth table napkins into a bag that can be tied on to the chair arms;

It seems a very old-fashioned idea, but will hopefully be the answer. The whole scenario is full of memories; or Oma (that's my Oma, children, not yours!) used to sit in the rush-seated chair that is in the back bedroom at Christmas chair - she was so short that it was the most comfortable chair for her - and this Windsor chair is one of two that used to be in her sitting room when I was a child.

Going through the button jar to find four matching buttons was another trip down memory lane...

The table napkins came from a whole bag of tablecloths and napkins, many hand embroidered with great skill, that came from my godmother. She is de-cluttering - every time we visit we come away with bagfuls of things - some for the tip, as she can no longer get rid of rubbish, and others just things that she wants to be cleared away. 'I don't need those things any more,' she says. 'You just take them away. You can have them now.' So we do, as it is clearly what she wants.

I'm not sure what to do with all the linen tea table cloths and matching napkins. So they are de-cluttered out of her house, and cluttered into ours at the moment. Well, we have lots of clutter - ours and other peoples' in the house - what's a little more, here or there?

And, breaking news; when was the last time the cats consented to share a settee?

Leo was hugely suspicious at first, but finally settled on the blue fleece rug heaped on the back of the settee and draped over the radiator, and went to sleep with her head on one of the hot-pack teddy bears, kept ready in case of sore necks. She's not there now - when she woke up and found McCavity had crept into her cushion/bed, that was the end of that.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Friday 14th December - Custard Biscuits and Malt Loaf

I promised son and daughter I would publish the recipe for the Custard Biscuits we were scoffing last weekend. This is my preferred recipe, and you can find it here;

Custard & white chocolate biscuits

but I always leave out the white chocolate. It makes around 30 biscuits


140g butter, softened

175g caster sugar

1 egg

½ tsp vanilla extract

225g self-raising flour

85g custard powder

85g white chocolate, chopped into small chunks - let me know if it works better with or without!


Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Line 2-3 baking sheets with baking parchment.

Put the butter and sugar in a food processor and whizz until light and fluffy.

Add the egg and vanilla, and mix well.

Sift together the flour and custard powder, then tip into the bowl and pulse to mix into a dough.

Scrape out the food processor and work the chocolate in by hand.

Roll the dough into balls a little smaller than a walnut, then place on the baking sheets, a little apart to allow for spreading.

Press each biscuit down lightly with your fingers.

Bake for 12-15 mins until lightly golden. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

One of these days I will follow the method properly - instead of creaming the butter and sugar and adding the egg, like making a cake, I keep forgetting and tipping it all in together and then wondering why it doesn't mix properly.

Mary Berry Malt Loaf

Today I made a Malt Loaf. Remember those Soreen fruit loaves that you slice and butter and they are delicious but stick your teeth together? This version uses Ovaltine powder, tastes exactly right and doesn't stick your teeth together. Perfect! I made one this afternoon, partly as procrastination befor writing Christmas cards, and partly to have as a reward for writing the cards.

It appears to be identical to the Mary Berry recipe, but double quantity, and so makes 2 1lb loaves.
I have halved everything below, so you only make one.


170g (6 oz) self raising flour

  • 2 tablespoons Ovaltine®
  • 25g (1 oz) caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 150ml (1/4 pt) milk
  • 85g (3 oz) mixed dried fruit

  • Method

  • Heat oven to 160C fan or gas 4
  • Grease and lined a 1lb (250gram) loaf tin
  • (they are quite small)
  • Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix
  • Tip into the loaf tin
  • Bake for around 50 mins/1hour
  • test with skewer; if done, cool on rack