Friday, December 31, 2010

the end of 2010

What a year this has been. I cannot say I am sorry to see it go, quite the opposite. So many things have happened and changed, most of them good. But mixed in there has been a lot of emotional upheaval and I am more than ready for the new stage of this journey. It has also been a year of learning and experiencing new things.

1) I learned to play poker (and won my first game).
2) I learned to knit.
3) I learned to drive stick shift (manual transmission).
4) I became an auntie for the first time.
5) I took my first Greyhound journey.
6) I went to (and was maid of honour) in my first British wedding.
7) I went sailing for the first time.
8) I had my first cross-chanel ferry ride.
9) I cooked my first turkey.
10) I learned how to crochet.

Many other wonderful and trying things happened this year. But now I'm looking forward to what the New Year will hold.

Monday, December 20, 2010

welcome to our world

This is one of my favourite Christmas songs,

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking

How we need to hear from God.

You’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting,

Welcome Holy Child.

Welcome Holy Child.

Hope that you don’t mind our manger,

How I wish we would have known.

But long awaited Holy Stranger

Make yourself at home.

Please make yourself at home.

Bring your peace into our violence,

Bid our hungry souls be filled.

Word now breaking Heaven’s silence,

Welcome to our world.

Welcome to our world.

Fragile finger sent to heal us,

Tender brow prepared for thorn,

Tiny heart whose blood will save us,

Unto us is born.

Unto us is born.

So wrap our injured flesh around You,

Breathe our air and walk our sod.

Rob our sin and make us holy,

Perfect Son of God.

Perfect Son of God.

Welcome to our world.

by Chris Rice

Despite the snow causing major delays in the arrival of the mail all across the UK my Christmas package arrived today. It was full of wonderful and lovely things including a "Bedtime Hug" from Origins. It is the most wonderful thing ever! A large wrap filled with Lavender, Chamomile, and Rosemary that you warm up in the microwave. I frequently have pain in my shoulders and this is going to be amazing as is it large enough to wrap over my neck and shoulders all at once with soothing heat and it smells A-mazing!!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

i laughed when i saw him in spite of myself

It was snowing and I was all dressed up in Christmassy clothes and I just couldn't resist! Don't mind the poor webcamera work or how big it makes my nose look!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

walking in a winter wonderland

Tonight I got all dressed up in Christmassy colors (that's my new hat, which I made... nbd) and went out to sing in a Christmas choir. It was snowing and lovely. Then, as I walked home in the thickly falling snow, I passed Christmas carollers and was given a present (ok, the present was a tract, but it's big and pretty and fancy) and a mince pie. I sang all the way home (Winter Wonderland with James Taylor and We Wish You a Merry Christmas with Raffi) and was absolutely covered in snow. It was fantastic!!!

Remember, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing LOUD for all to hear!

This is a little ditty I made up last week when I was out in the falling snow for the first time this year:

Snow, SNow, SNOw, SNOW!
Snow on my cheeks and snow on my nose
Snow on my eyelashes, fingers, and toes.
Slipping and sliding around on the ice,
Winter and Christmas are so jolly nice!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Last time I rode the ferry these guys were on board...

And yes, the fact that they made this video and that Mariah Carey Tweeted about it was news on the BBC website...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas party

Today I went to the international student's Christmas party at BMC. I wasn't planning to go, but I received a phone call on Friday afternoon that made me feel like I didn't have that much of a choice. I wouldn't exactly say I'm glad I went. I'm nursing a cold and would have been just as happy to stay home. But it was a nice meal and I met some nice girls and had a lovely chat with the director of the college who is very nice and we got some nice gifts. I did feel it was slightly unfair as most of my prizes came from being in the group which correctly answered the most questions on the Christmas quiz the quickest. I was probably the only person in the room for whom English is not an additional language and who is from a Western country and is getting ready to celebrate my third British Christmas. I may have had just a slightly unfair advantage...Here's what I got after divvying up the spoils with my teammates. A box of Ritz crackers (!), dark chocolate covered ginger, a stuffed penguin which plays a scary version of Jingle Bells, a box of Maltesers, a box of After Eights, a pencil, a notepad, a jumpy frog, and a 2011 calendar from some gentlemen outside of the Baptist Church.

The frog and the purple crown are from my Christmas cracker and so is this joke:

Q. Who invented fireworks?
A. Some bright spark.

Ha, Ha, Ha.

my Christmas journey

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

busy, busy, busy

Said in a voice slightly reminiscent of the magician in Frosty the Snowman. (But I've been busy with happy Christmas things, not the opposite. Promise, cross my heart.) I'm out on placement this whole week, no classes at all. When I'm not at placement I've been listening to this and working on this:I can't really let you see, because it's for Christmas... Santa's Little Helper has to at least try to keep a few secrets!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

free books!!!

I just found the most amazing website which allows you to download audio books completely free! They use books that are in the public domain. You pick the book you want, click the link to have it added to iTunes as a podcast, and presto! A new book to listen to! I'm getting ready for my two eight hour bus journeys! I started with The Story Girl and The Golden Road by Lucy Maud Montgomery, two of my favourite books growing up which I haven't read for probably 13 years or more!

The website is Books Should Be Free, enjoy!

(There are a lot of exclamation points in this post... books make me SO happy!!!)

Friday, December 3, 2010

from a Christmas gone by...

Recorded December 2008

Christmas Mice

For my nephew's Christmas present and for the 3rd birthday of a little girl I used to nanny I made little stuffed mice. It was my first toy project and it was lots of fun! I know they will be given proper names by the children they belong to, but I call them Felix and Felicity.

Here are the pieces, all ready to be assembled.
Felicity wanted to see the snow.
Of course Felix did too, and it's a bit chilly on the windowsill, so he put on his scarf.
Friends Forever

Then they tried to get into my Christmas chocolate, but I stopped them just in time!

I sure hope they make the little ones smile as much as I did!

well the weather outside is frightful

Last night I laid out two pairs of thermals, a pair of knee socks and a pair of big wool socks, a tank top, a pair of jeans, my wellies, and a big wool sweater. This morning I added a long sleeved t-shirt and a third pair of socks and laid all the clothes on the radiator while I showered. I dried my hair, put it in braided pigtails, and used the hair dryer to warm up my boots. I had two pairs of gloves at the ready, a scarf, bobble hat, and waterproof coat with a hood. I packed a lunch and filled a thermos with hot tea. My nursery school had a trip to the farm planned.

I waddled to school in all my layers with sore feet because the socks made my feet too big for the wellies. All of this only to find out that the trip was canceled for fear of being snowed in at the farm.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

happy, happy, happy

So a few things that are gettin' me really excited!

1) I got a free month's trial of LoveFilm, the UK version of Netflix. It comes with two free cinema tickets and £5 worth of points on my Nectar card, which is like a store VIP card. My first movie is the animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and it will soon be on it's way!

2) When I was doing my Christmas shopping yesterday I discovered that Boots carries Vitamin Water, one of my favourite things! I also discovered that a YogaBerry lookalike is coming to Belfast soon!

3) A lady in my knitting group gave everyone coupons for a free Graze Box. Which is basically a box of healthy snacks that are delivered to your door. I've just ordered my free box to be delivered the day before I head to Scotland for Christmas. That way I can have it and a Vitamin Water on my bus journey. Isn't that just perfect?!

4) Tonight I'm heading to the first practice of the Christmas Choir at church. It's been years since I've been in a choir, and a Christmas choir is even better! I'm so excited!!!

5) When I switched over to my new computer I didn't put all my music on it. It was all stored on my external hard drive so I decided to only put on what I listen to most. (I have an exorbitant amount of music.) Well, this was a great plan until my old computer managed to corrupt the files on my hard drive so that they are no longer accessible. I thought I had lost all my music. Well, last night I discovered it in the trash of my new computer. Because it took me a while to figure out the correct/fast way to transfer the files I had a copy of my entire library in my trash. All that music, including my Christmas music, and children's music and my audio books, found again! It was a Christmas miracle!!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

december 1st

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16

"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him anyone can have a whole and lasting life." - The Message

Sunday, November 28, 2010


A few things I'm thankful for all mixed up and in random order.

I'm thankful to be in Belfast.

I'm thankful for skype.

I'm thankful for new additions to the family, especially this little guy.
I'm thankful for Turkey soup!

I'm thankful for pretty Christmas/Thanksgiving bunting.
I'm thankful for winter sunshine and chrysanthemums.
I'm thankful for apple cinnamon candles.
I'm thankful that I learned how to knit this year.

I'm thankful for a lovely little early Christmas present for myself in the way of a knitting kit from Ysolda.

I'm thankful for a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with wonderful friends!
I'm thankful for friends, new and old.
I'm thankful for candles, and autumn leaves.
I'm thankful my first turkey was a success.

I'm thankful for my plaid flannel dress.

I'm thankful for cranberry sauce.

I'm thankful for Jesus and his love and care for me.

I'm thankful for movies and books and music.

I'm thankful for facebook.

I'm thankful for snow.

I'm thankful for sunsets.

I'm thankful for poetry.

I'm thankful that being thankful makes me feel so happy.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

tonight's going to be a good night!

You can see the video of Kirstin's wedding here!

Although I'm sure you'll all be disappointed to know that the shot of me being flung across the dance floor by the father of the bride has not been included. I know I am.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Last night I had the unexpected experience of visiting Dr. Ian Paisley's church and hearing him preach. In many ways it was a surreal experience. All of the women wore hats (because women should keep their heads covered). The Bibles were in the Authorised Version (the only true translation). The language used from the pulpit was largely inaccessible for anyone under the age of 60.

I had tagged along with a friend who was going as a part of her master's course. It was me and about 15 other people studying conflict resolution and reconciliation. We were invited to speak to Dr. Paisley after the service. There was a marked difference in his manner and his speech when he was no longer in the pulpit. He greeted everyone and shook our hands. It was possible to understand what he was saying. He was friendly and accommodating. It was obvious that just as Northern Ireland has come a long way since the troubles, Dr. Paisley has come a long way from "Ulster says no." It was also obvious that just as Northern Ireland still has a ways to go, Dr. Paisley does as well. My prayer for him is that he would know the grace and love of Jesus and find peace in himself.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

rainy day

This was a very rainy day. A very rainy and blustery day. The blustery rain woke me up about 3:00am and kept me awake until about 4:30am. That was not very happy. Fortunately I didn't have to be at college until 12:30 so I could sleep in a bit.

The day got better from there. I got a good amount of work done at school. Just as I was leaving school I had a text that the boots I ordered had come into the shop. That meant I could pick them up on my way to my Wednesday afternoon knitting group. Not to mention they fit and they are lovely and they were on sale!!!

Knitting group was good, very interesting conversations going on. I'm trying my hand at my first pair of socks which required a bit of concentration so there was a bit more listening than talking on my part.

I just discovered that a singer/songwriter type I really enjoy has a Christmas album. It's been out for two years so I'm not sure how I missed it. But I got it this morning and have been listening to it ever since. Lovely. It's Christmas Songs by Fernando Ortega. I'm loving his versions of Joy to the World and O Little Town of Bethlehem, two of my favourite Christmas songs.

Then, once I finally made it home in the dark and cold and rain I won an auction on ebay for a much needed extension adapter for my computer. £9 including shipping for something that would have cost about £30 directly from apple. And I got nectar points for it!

I have a feeling the next few weeks are going to be a bit crazy. I've got part of an assignment 700 words and a full assignment 3,500 words due. Plus, Thanksgiving is next week and I'm having a large group of friends over for dinner to celebrate on the Friday. Speaking of which, my lovely course coordinator while conducting an informal interview on Tuesday was checking in with how I'm doing and said she wanted to do something to help me feel at home for Thanksgiving. So she has offered to make a dessert for my dinner! How lovely is that???

I'll be off at placement tomorrow. Here's hoping the wind and rain don't keep me up tonight so I have plenty of energy for the "little dears."

Sunday, November 14, 2010


My youngest sister and I have been wanting to go to Antarctica together for a while. This is largely inspired by the book Troubling a Star by Madeline L'Engle. We're realistic about it, we realise it will take a few years to save up the money for a trip of this nature. This week the first concrete step of planning was accomplished. Lacy found this expedition. Now, all we have to do is save up about $25,000 each. (And we will definitely be doing the optional extension trip to Easter Island. I mean if you're going to take a month and spend a year's salary you might as well make the most of it. Right?)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

all hedgie and hoggie

One of my favourite things about my course is my placement. I'm working in a nursery school on Thursdays and Fridays and I love it. (A nursery school is for three and four year olds and is the year before children go to primary school.)

On Friday my class took a trip to Belvior Forest Park, one of my favourite places in Belfast. They've been learning about Autumn and nocturnal animals and hibernation so it was perfect! We had a guide who led us around and did wonderful sensory activities with the children like having them close their eyes and listen to the sound of the forest and collecting bits of leaves to stick on a little piece of cardboard shaped like an artist's palette to show off the colours of Autumn. We saw a deserted Badger's sett and a California Redwood which is the tallest tree in the forest, and also saw the bamboo grove where the hedgehogs make their winter nest.

It's so fun learning about British animals! (I am such a dork!)

I am also learning lots of wonderful new children's songs. Some of the songs are the same, like Twinkle, Twinkle. Some of the songs have the same lyrics but a different melody, like Baa, Baa Black Sheep. Some have whole new sections added on like 10 in the Bed. And some are completely new. My favourite of this week is sung to the tune of Two Little Blackbirds Sitting on a Hill.

"Two little hedgehogs sitting by the shed
One named Marybel and one named Fred.
Curl up Marybel, curl up Fred
Two little hedgehogs sitting by the shed.

Two little hedgehogs sitting by the shed
One named Marybel and one named Fred.
Peekaboo Marybel, peekaboo Fred
Two little hedgehogs sitting by the shed."

Thursday, November 4, 2010


On the 4th day of the 44th week of the 11th month of 1982 I was born.
It was a Thursday, like today.

Monday, November 1, 2010


1) I wish Andrew Bird and/or The Decemberists would come to Belfast.
2) When the curtains are closed it makes my room feel like a tent.
3) I spend a lot of time getting over myself.
4) I've been entering Jordan Cereal's Frusli Fruiti Fun contest every week. Haven't won of the big prizes, but you can win up to three cereal bars each week. My first six just came in the mail.
5) I'm loving Jason Upton's new CD, Live in Dublin
6) I had a cold last week during my fall break and so spent a good amount of time watching tv online, Big Bang Theory anyone?
7) It's a good idea to pay close attention to what you're buying at Asian markets. I have no idea what I bought, but I know it's not lentils.
8) Pumpkin pancakes are one of my new favourite things.
9) It is now quite dark at roughly 5pm.
10) God is crying out over Ireland like a Father longing for his runaway child to come home.

Just sayin'

Saturday, October 30, 2010

baking day

So I decided to do some baking today. I made some bran muffins that usually have dates in them. I omitted the dates and added raisins, grated carrots, and apple chunks. Very healthy, and yummy! I also made some pumpkin pancakes and added grated apple to them. I was just planning to have them as a quick and easy breakfast for the week. But after a couple hours of baking and cleaning I had no desire to make dinner. Also, I have a cold that doesn't really want to go away and I was beginning to feel rather rubbishy. So I had pancakes for dinner and they were delicious!
I could tell I wasn't feeling well as I made quite a mess.
We need a bigger mixing bowl, I had to use the stock pot!
The gloop that became the muffins.
Mixing up some pancakes!
Pancakes ready to go! (And my happy butter dish.)
There they are getting all scrumptious in the oven.

Also, sorry the pictures aren't great. The lighting in the kitchen is rubbish and I took them with my computer which made it difficult to get the right angle.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


So, I've been listening to the Craft-Lit pod cast and she was talking about her plans to build a chicken coop out of plastic bottles. So I googled it, and found some amazing pictures of houses, churches and temples, sheds, all made out of bottles. Amazing! Here are a few of my favourites:

You see, the chemicals used to melt down and recycle plastic bottles are as bad as the ones used to make them in the first place. So this is an amazing way to repurpose large quantities of plastic bottles without any of that fall out. You should do a google image search on building with plastic bottles, fascinating!!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

five little pumpkins

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate,
First one said, "Oh my, it's getting late."
Second one said, "There are witches in the air."
Third one said, "But we don't care."
Fourth one said, "Let's run and run and run."
Fifth one said, "I'm ready for some fun."
Oooo went the wind and out went the light.
Five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

Today I received five little pumpkins in a box...

One was a jar of pumpkin butter. I'm going to have some very yummy toast in the mornings!
Two was a box of pumpkin muffin mix. Gonna add some chocolate chips and have some delicious and easy to make snacks!!!
Three and four were cans of pumpkin so I can make pumpkin bread or pumpkin bars or pumpkin soup or ... ... ...
Five was a bag of pumpkin spice hershey kisses... Oh. My. Goodness. They are delicious!!!
Thanks Mom!

Sunday, October 17, 2010


It's the end of a rather lovely weekend.

Yesterday I did a bit of cleaning and lots of laundry and some knitting. Then I went to a small worship and prayer gathering which was slightly wonderful followed by an evening hanging out with friends discussing theology and irish history and fun things like that.

I was pretty sleepy and didn't wake up in quite enough time to go to church. So I had a quiet morning at home including a lovely quiet time. (That sounds rather redundant doesn't it? But you know what I mean, don't you?) Got all the laundry folded and put away, bed made up, room generally tidied. Wrote an update letter. Did some journalling. A lovely day.

Then I sat down with my knitting and watched the live action version of 101 Dalmatians on BBC iplayer and this rather fantastic movie which I purchased for £6 when I was at the north coast last weekend.

"There's a lot of attitudes going on around here... don't let me get one."

"Redemption? Sure. But in the end he's just another dead rat in a garbage pail behind a Chinese restaurant."

"If what I think is happening is happening... it better not be."

love it!!!

Also, my police check came in the mail yesterday which means I can start my placement this week. Yahoo!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

child development

I am loving learning about child development in college! Most of the other units we're doing are currently focusing on different aspects of health and safety, and in all honesty seem to be running into each other. But our Unit 2 class on child development is so interesting!

As a "childcare practitioner" with over 10 years of experience (that sounds so ostentatious!) I have had ample opportunity to observe children in pretty much all stages of development. But now! Now I'm learning the language, what the normal milestones are, delving into the relevant theorists, learning the reasons behind the mechanics of it all. I'm loving it!!! As we're reading and discussing these things my mind can immediately jump to such and such child in a particular situation and say, "Yes, I've observed that!" or, "My experience has proved different." I'm absolutely loving it! (Did I say that already?)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

north coast

This, incidentally, is my 300th post, posted on 10.10.10!

Went up to the north coast yesterday with my friend Rachel. We shopped and walked and ate and watched movies, and generally had a good time. Wandered around Colraine, spent the night in her parent's holiday cottage in Portballintrae, and meandered our way back to Belfast along the coastal route. It was a lovely weekend!

Ireland's smallest church!