Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Wonder Of Your Love

The Wonder Of Your Love by Beth Wiseman
Published by Thomas Nelson.

I really wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this book by Beth Wiseman.  I'm not a fan of modern romances, though I must admit to enjoying Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer,  and I simply couldn't imagine what an Amish romance was going to be like. 

Instead, my trepidation turned into delight as  I found myself being drawn into a beautifully told story with wonderful touches of humour and fun. Almost a comedy of manners, in fact, where the protagonists are Katie Ann, an Amish widow with a young baby and  Eli, an Amish widower who has just seen his last child grow up and marry. Both expecting to remain single for the rest of their lives,  they are faced with a bevy of well-meaning Amish and non-Amish friends who are intent on matchmaking.

Add to the story a mystery over why Katie Ann's wayward and unfaithful late husband had bought a new house - was it for his long-suffering wife or for his mistress? - and Katie's delightful Englisch friend Martha, who has a tangled love-life of her own, and you have all the things needed for a thoroughly enjoyable book.
I  loved every page of it, and was desperately willing the story to end happily, so well and so engagingly were the characters drawn.
Well done, Beth Wiseman - this book is a keeper !

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this ebook as part of the Booksneeze program.
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Photo Day 30

Photo Day 30 - Nature

As it is barely above freezing today, I have resurrected a wintery photo I took in Dec 2010 of a cobweb that was completely frozen. There was no sign of the spider, whom I hope had found somewhere safe to sheleter from the bitter weather.......
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Clash Of The Titles

I found a great site today, called Clash of the Titles.

Excerpts from two books are posted, and you get to do small critiques/answer questions about the books, with the opportunity to enter a giveaway contest.
 The current one is based on the works of two famous Amish Romance authors; I've read one but not both, and the excerpt of the unread one has really whetted my appetite to buy it :-)
Or maybe win it :-)
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Photo Day 29

 Photo Day 29 - The Inside Of My Fridge

Looking a little bare as we have a grocery order being delivered tomorrow.....
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Photo Day 28

Photo Day 28 - Light

This is the light nearest the computer desk. It looks pretty but is functionally useless for detailed or close work, even when all three bulbs are working. Replacing the defunct bulb will be a job for DH as I get vertigo just standing on a chair, and I am too short to reach it even on a chair :-)
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Photo Day 27

Photo Day 27 - Lunch
Sorry about the delay; I completely forgot to take a photo of my lunch on Friday - which was scrambled egg on toast. That was what DH felt like, and I was not in the mood to cook something else for myself .... and I only remembered about photographing it after I had swallowed the last mouthful. Whoops.
So then my good intention was to photograph my lunch yesterday, but I totally forgot till after I had eaten it, so here is a picture from the Web of Friday's lunch. Eventually :-)
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Photo Day 26

Photo Day 26 - Colour

It has to be this photograph I took of the daubings inside a reproduction hut at the Celtic Village , St Fagan's outdoor museum near Cardiff   :-)
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Book Review : Michael Recycle And The Tree Top Cops

One of the fun things about helping out every week in our school's library is that I get to read children's books, which often are far more interesting than "grown-up" books !  Part of my work is looking for new authors and concepts which we need to add to our library and which the children, aged 3 to 11, will enjoy.

I've been looking for good conservation/ecology books aimed at the younger end of the age range and was delighted to be be able to review a digital copy of   "Michael Recycle and the Tree Top Cops" courtesy of the publishers via NetGalley.

 Our hero is Michael, whose passion is conservation and the environment, so imagine his horror at finding a forest being torn down to provide paper for magazines, and we get to see how he finds a way not only to protect the trees, but also to convert the  magazine producers to a greener way of thinking.

It is cleverly written in verse by Ellie Patterson  and is a beautifully and humorously illustrated picture book by the talented  Alexandra Columbo. It is a thoughtful, funny and extremely attractive short book of 24 pages, ideal for reading to younger children or for those beginning to read independently.

It is being published in the USA by IDW Publishing on  March 20, 2012 and I hope it will soon be available in the UK too.

The ISBN: 9781613771617
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Corned Beef Pie Recipe

.... especially for Michael The Hungry :-)

450 g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
one half teaspoon salt
Mix these together

Add 120g diced butter ( or of margarine,  or half lard /half margarine)
When combined, add up to 120 ml cold water to make a ball of pastry. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in fridge.

For the filling:
1 large onion, roughly chopped - or more if you really like onions
About 750g potatoes - it depends on the size of your pie dish............ I like lots of  potatoes.
dice and boil with the onion in lightly salted water.
When cooked, mash them roughly , then add the diced contents of a 340 g tin corned beef and mix well

Divide pastry in two, roll out and line an ovenproof pie dish. Add the filling mix, cover with pastry lid, pierce in several places for steam to escape, and brush with a beaten egg.

Bake in the centre of a Gas mark 4 / 180 C oven for approx 30 mins till golden brown.

Enjoy !
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Photo Page 25

Photo Day 25 - Something You Made

This is my famous Corned Beef Pasty Pie. Easy to make, and yummy. Real comfort food..........
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Photo Day 24

Photo Day 24 - Guilty Pleasure

I had money for my birthday so I bought myself some Amish-based fiction :-)
 I have read the two Christmas themed books, and am saving the boxed set for a Bad Day when I need cheering up........
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Eat To Boost Your Immunity

I've spent a  very absorbing few hours reading a book by Kirsten Hartvig called "Eat To Boost Your Immunity".
We have a strong history of asthma, bronchitis and eczema in our family, and I am always on the look-out for information and ways to lessen the risks of these problems for my own children.

I really like the glossy, well laid out and and beautifully illustrated  large format of the book; it is attractive, easy to use and crammed full of information about beneficial foods and most importantly, has lots of recipes !

An informative section about how the immune system works opens the book, followed by a section on the many foods which are known to help the immune system function more effectively and  includes recipes using each type of foodstuff.  Part Three discusses health problems and gives specific information about which foods will  helps the most with that condition; a wide variety of specific problems from cystitis to migraine and diabetes are discussed, as well as stress-related issues.

Part Four provides a wealth of recipes in specific soup/starter/snack/main meal/salad/dessert/drinks categories. This makes the book very easy to use; many of these recipes are easy to make and look absolutely delicious......I am looking forward to trying them all out, especially the smoothies and herbal based drinks !

It is great to find a book which pulls together information about healthy eating, illnesses and beneficial foods in one informative and up to date volume which is as equally interesting  to browse through as well as when looking for information about a specific problem or food.
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Photo Day 23

Photo Day 23 - Something Old

One of my oldest books is this lovely Latin/French  prayer book, bound in leather and tooled with gold.

When it arrived, I was thrilled to find that the seller had kindly left in these beautiful lacy paper holy cards; it is nice to think of a previous owner using these as bookmarks for favourite parts
of the prayer book.

The earliest date on the table of moveable Feasts is 1822 but the inscription on the flyleaf is dated 1851. Either way, it is the oldest book in my possession.
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Photo Day 22

Photo Day 22 - Your Shoes

Lest any of you might have some vague notion that I am in any way houseproud, I should confess that I am  not, and provide this photo of our shoe corner under the stairs to prove it.
To keep it on topic, only the third shelf down  actually contains my footwear :-)
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Saturday, January 21, 2012


I did something really foolish on Thursday. I am now officially a birdbrain.

I left my mobile phone at my Mum's house. When preparing to leave, I was talking to Mum's elderly friend and completely forgot to pick the phone up from the coffee table in the extension where it receives the best signal.........

I initially thought I could manage without it and that I would simply go up and collect it on Friday morning after I had dropped DD4  at school, and it was only at 8.30 pm on Thursday night that I realised with a sickening realisation that my phone alarm was set to go off - to wake me up - at 6.30am the next morning, and the alarm would continue to ring very loudly indeed until
 a/ turned off or
b/ the wretched battery is fully discharged.

Knowing that Mum would be totally confused and frightened as to why this incredibly loud alarm is ringing if it wakes her in the morning, and that none of us would be there till at least 08.30am to turn it off, I headed straight back up to Mum's to retrieve the phone.

 When I let myself in, she was already asleep, so I tip-toed into the other room to retrieve the Phone of Doom and let myself out equally quietly, heaving a huge sigh of relief that I had remembered about the alarm in time.........
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Photo Day 21

Photo Day 21 - Reflection

My precious little lake, yet again.........

This was taken in June 2011.

And this was taken this week, walking DD4 home from school in the mist......
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Photo Day 20

Photo Day 20 - Someone you love

Well, it would be unfair to single out any one human amongst my family and friends, all of whom I love dearly, so I am opting to use this photo of the Dog of Doom, squashing himself into the tiny gap between my legs and the computer desk just so he can have a cuddle.
And probably more likely because I was eating  biscuits at the time :-)
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Photo Day 19


Photo Day 19 - Sweet

My Dear Husband bought me this as a surprise part of my birthday present - a cuddly Clanger, which is also a microwaveable hot water bottle :-)
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Photo Day 18

Photo Day 18 - Something You Bought

Bedsocks !
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Photo Day 17

Photo Day 17 - Water

It was so hard to choose that I have picked four :-)

This is a frequent view in the ancient town of Tenby, in Pembrokeshire, Wales. As you walk through the town, there are narrow passageways giving tantalising and delightful glimpses of the sea.....

Tenby again.
The water really was that colour blue !

 And yet again, but this time looking across to the wonderful holy island of Caldey, home of many Saints since the very earliest days of Christianity in Wales, and still home to a monastery even now.

Perched just offshore from Tenby, when you go there, it is a different and very peaceful world. I would love to go there again soon.

And my dear little lake :-)

These were ripples from a swan landing in the water......
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Monday, January 16, 2012

Finding, Choosing And Reading Books With Your Children

 Have you ever been at a loss to know how to get your child really interested in reading, or wondered just how on earth you are supposed to choose books which your child will enjoy when there are literally thousands of books to choose from, and which can vary dramatically in price? Quality is also an issue; books can sometimes be quite boring, use overly complicated language, be poorly illustrated or have awkward typefaces and font sizes - any of these can so easily discourage a beginning or reluctant reader.

Like many other parents, I relied a great deal on word of mouth recommendations from friends whose children were of similar ages to mine, as well as consulting with my friendly and knowledgeable local librarian and bookseller. Now there is the added bonus of being able to do the same thing but on a much bigger scale, thanks to the Internet.

Over the years I have bought lots of books from Red House, and I was delighted to find that they have now introduced an interactive section to their website, My Red House, where you can browse recommendations and reviews from experts, children and parents alike, enter competitions, download resources and activities, and even "chat" with other parents. You can read interviews with famous authors and illustrators and search for book signings and book related events all over the UK, as well as vote for your favourite book in the upcoming Red House Children's Book Awards.

Once you have found a book you like, you can purchase it directly from Red House Books at a bargain price and have it delivered quickly to your home.I have had great fun browsing the site and I will certainly be bookmarking it in my "Favourites" folder!

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Photo Day 16

Photo Day 16 - Morning

I walk past this little lake most mornings, and here the sun is shining on it.
Taken October 2011.
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Photo Day 15

Photo Day 15 - Happiness

is seeing my DD2's face when year after year, she has a chocolate caterpillar cake on her birthday !  She has loved these cakes ever since she was a small child, and we were sad one year when we could not get one for her anywhere.....
She never, ever eats the icing face... that always gets given to me :-)
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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Significant Dates

Today marks the 23rd anniversary of my father's death.

Of your charity, please pray for the repose of the soul of Donald......

Some dates are simply seared into my heart and mind.......

ETA: Thank you all for your prayers ! They are much appreciated !
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Photo Day 14

Photo Day 14 - Something You're Reading

These are my current three books "on the go".

"The Stripping Of The Altars" is a magnificent, weighty and scholarly tome which manages to be an utterly absorbing and readable account of the English reformation.  I have read this book several times, and it reduces me to tears each time as I see the last vestiges of Orthodoxy forcibly ripped from the English people....

Codes & Ciphers is a small book but crammed full of the most fascinating information and instructions about creating and breaking codes and ciphers. One day I will actually master Morse Code !

Georgette Heyer, Biography of a Bestseller by Jennifer Kloester is a delight. I am rationing myself to a few pages each day because I cannot bear to reach the end. Georgette Heyer was an intensely private woman, a meticulous scholar and researcher whose knowledge of the Regency period was phenomenal and unparalleled in her lifetime - or ever since. I have been reading her books since I was 12, and am relishing each and every page  of this biography, for which Jennifer Kloester was given unprecendented access to the Heyer family documents and photographs  :-)

And now I am up to date in the Challenge !
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Photo Day 13

Photo Day 13 - In Your Bag

The contents of my bag are:

My Blackberry

My old phone, as I cannot face the thought of having to contact all the official bodies who use my old number to contact me about Mum's care and business matters....easier to carry that phone with me in case they need to phone me.




My St Ambrose Western Rite Orthodox prayer book, as the prayers for the dying and the dead are wonderful and so comforting, just in case I get a phone call to see Mum for the last time and I forget to take it with me........ I must add a small Psalter too.
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Photo Day 12

Photo Day 12 - Close Up

In October last year, I was in the kitchen one morning and could see something stuck to the old peanut feeder. I thought it was an old leaf, blown there in the wind and went to brush it off. I stopped myself just in time; it was no leaf but a lovely, well-camouflaged moth resting quietly.
Needless to say, I did not disturb it in any way, but just took some photos and left it well alone. The next day it had gone, and there has not been another one since.
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Friday, January 13, 2012


Updated to add:

Thank you all so much for your prayers and loving thoughts.
 I am lucky if Mum manages to say a dozen words a day to me now.........it is very hard to bear. I keep thinking of things I wish I had said when she was truly able to understand and respond to me........


Words are powerful things.

They can be innocuous, enthralling, damaging, inspiring, disheartening, soul-destroying, frightening, comforting, joyful, sad, healing...... the list goes on to infinity.

Once uttered, words can hurt people, and even if the words are retracted and an apology is made, the hurt lingers and can fester for years.

Conversely, if powerful and encouraging words are used, their effects can work wonders for the rest of someone's life.........

All too often, we only perceive what an amazing gift and blessing speech is when it is no longer possible to utter any words at all.

My mother has been saying fewer and fewer words each day, and she is obviously struggling to find words to express her thoughts and feelings, so much so that she is disengaging from the world and from all of us just a little more each day. She seems to find it almost as difficult to comprehend speech as her illness progresses slowly but inexorably.

Lord have mercy.......
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Photo Day 11

 Photo Day 11 - Where You Sleep

Well, if you are my second daughter's utterly adorable pug puppy called Bertie, you'll fall asleep absolutely anywhere :-)
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Photo Day 10

Photo Day 10 - Childhood

It was such a delight to think that just as I had loved walking our family dog when I was a child,  now my own DD3 also loves walking our family dog.

These are the things memories are made of.....
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Photo Day 9

Photo Day 9 - Daily Routine

This was a difficult choice.
Eventually I settled on birdwatching; it is second nature to me to take note of what birds are around me in my daily life.
 This delightful male blackbird was in the courtyard outside the back door in December 2010, waiting for me to put food out for him :-)
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Photo Day 8

Day 8 - Your sky....

This is possibly the most dramatic sky shot I've ever taken, and it was taken on Monday this week, at 09.11am.  The sun was shining and making the pale  yellow paint on the buildings glow brightly, but it was just about to rain and the clouds were becoming blacker by the minute. It rained heavily two or three minutes later :-)
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Photo Day 7

Day 7 -Favourite

My favourite couch potato companion is my precious Dog of Doom, His Serene Highness, Prince Vasyl :-)
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Photo Day 6

Day 6 - Makes You Smile

This was a recent birthday gift from my very dear friend Mary R, who always, always, manages to find the most delightful, thoughtful and utterly perfect gifts for me :-)

I ♥ it, Mary, and it makes me smile each time I look at it, so thank you once again!
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Photo Day 5

Photo Day 5 - Something you wore

My husband spotted this super pair of  Cotton Traders trekking shoes
on special offer (and on sale too!) on the weekend.
He bought them for me as part of my birthday present,
 so my feet are now going to be both warm
 and weatherproof for the winter.
They are so comfortable :-)
Thank you, sweetheart !
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Photo Day 4 - Letterbox

Yes, I am trying hard to catch up :-)

Day 4 - Letterbox

My poor letterbox has had a hammering during the atrocious winter weather; living quite close to the sea means the poor front door gets a lot of direct exposure to the elements.
Once spring arrives, the door needs painting and the letterbox needs a thorough clean.......

The line in the pane of glass is not a crack, but part of an integral stained glass decoration, by the way :-)
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Take 12 Minutes Of Your Time....

......to watch this video clip.

You won't regret it.

Lots more information about this incredible exhibition in English here.
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Photo Day 3

Day 3
Something I adore - has to be chocolate.

In fact, I like it far too much :-) 
This box was part of my birthday gift from my eldest
daughter and son-in-law, Mr & Mrs DoomHamster...
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Monday, January 09, 2012

News On Andrea Gleason

Andrea continues to recover well after her brain surgery, God be thanked :-)

Videos of her walking are at the link above.

May the Mother of God always shelter dear Andrea under Her Protecting Veil !
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Growing Crystals

DD4 saw this and couldn't wait to buy it.  
We duly assembled the cardboard sheets into their allotted places
 on the plastic base and added the sachets of chemical solutions.
 Lo and behold, the plain cardboard has grown
snow, flowers and trees of delicate crystals, much to her absolute delight. 
I envisage this is going to be a fixture on the
 windowsill of my laundry area for a long time to come :-)
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Recently Read

The Sacred Gift of Life is a book that repays careful reading, re-reading and pondering. As modern medicine continues to develop at such a fast pace, we desperately need Orthodox ethicists who can look at the moral dilemmas which confront us as a society and offer guidance. This book was published in 2000 and we are continually confronted with new advances which make originally published guidance somewhat out of date all too quickly. I do hope this is one title St Vlad's Press will continue to amend, update and make available on a long-term basis.

Holy Days is a privileged view into the life of a Hasidic Jewish  family, a group which, along with the Amish, tend to be tightly knit and private communities set apart from the world. This is the second time I have read it, and I gained even more from it this time round.

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Photo Day 2

Day 2 - Breakfast

This was a post-birthday treat to myself, especially as the weather was cold and horrible when I walked up to town after taking DD4 to school :-)

I had a latte and a 6 inch bacon and egg breakfast sub with sliced red onions and onion sauce for the princely sum of £2.
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Sunday, January 08, 2012

Photo A Day Challenge

  I'm shamelessly borrowing this from Missingbecheery because it is brilliant !

 I know I am late starting, but here goes :-)

  Day 1 - You

A while ago, we visited a living history WW2 museum in Swansea.   It was chock-full of artefacts from the period, and many of them could be picked up, clothes tried on and studied.
We all especially loved the dressing up, and I took a photograph of  myself in a mirror whilst wearing period hat and coat.  In the background is a photograph of my youngest daughter wearing an authentic gas mask.

I love history in any shape or form, and I  like the juxtaposition of old and new, historical and modern, congruous and incongruous in this picture......
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Saturday, January 07, 2012


Yesterday was One Of Those Days.

The sort of day where everything seems to go wrong, everything is more difficult than usual and life seems totally and utterly determined to "get" you.

My final straw came in the early evening when  I was kneeling down, rummaging in a food cupboard, frantically searching for a carton of passata to finish making my pasta sauce. As I crossly grabbed items, checked labels and grumpily replaced them, a very large but mercifully plastic jar of  fruit in juice fell out of the cupboard and hit me straight in the face. If it had been a metal can of equivalent size, it would have really, really hurt.

I squealed, then uttered a few expletives. My dear husband, who was standing nearby washing dishes at the sink, looked rather surprised at the flow of somewhat colourful language and the sight of me clutching my cheek with tears streaming down my face and muttering  "I give up. I've had enough, I just want to go to bed, pull the quilt over my head and shut the world out for a while and complain."

After a minute or so, during which time my dear husband went to the garage and returned with  four cartons of tomatoes, one for me to use now and the rest put into the store cupboard,  I stopped sniffling in self-pity and started to laugh. 

It's so easy to apportion blame everywhere *except* where it is due, isn't it ?

If I had cleared out the cupboard last week, as I had intended, I would have known exactly what food was still in there so I wouldn't have needed to rummage frantically, the wretched cupboard would have been organised and tidy so that everything was easily visible and accessible and the precariously balanced jar of fruit would not then have been placed in a position where it was able to wobble off the top shelf and fall on me at all..... but no, *I* had become side-tracked and distracted from my list of household tasks I needed to do, and had chosen to spend an extra hour  on Facebook and leaving me no time to finish clearing out the kitchen.  I hadn't bothered to finish off those original chores on subsequent days, either.


And the very fact that the kitchen cupboards are plentifully stocked with food should always be a cause for thankfulness and gratitude in a world where so many people are hungry and in need, and not a cause for complaint.

I thanked my husband, finished making our meal in a very thoughtful frame of mind and said Grace with careful attention to the words. Afterwards, I looked in the mirror at the tiny bruise the jar had left on my cheekbone, and was profoundly thankful I didn't have a black eye instead :-)
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Asking For Prayers

...........for seven year old Andrea Gleason from Omaha.

Here she is being communed with the Holy Mysteries prior to major surgery to remove a large brain tumour....


and here she is being anointed prior to surgery......


I have had news that she has come through the surgery safely, thanks be to God, but obviously there is a long road ahead of this Western-Rite Orthodox family.
 Please do keep them in your prayers.........
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