Reasons to Smile 16/06

Wow, I haven’t done one of these in way too long. Here are my top 5

1. Being a couch to 5k success story

That’s me. Finally running. I started at Christmas using the Couch to 5k app, and I’m doing it. I’ve hit some pretty big bumps along the way (can I get a ‘forefoot supernatus?!’…no? ok) and it’s not been easy, but today I ran 4.25 miles which is well on the way to my 10k (July) and half marathon (September).  I’m slow and I’m not graceful, but I’m out doing it, and todays run burned 500 calories so…

It’s also lovely to be doing something that Matt loves, together. He got the running bug last year and is now a marathoner (one done, one signed up for) so it is lovely to be involved in something he is so passionate about. He makes a great running buddy/pacer/coach and its nice to be doing something together.

Last weekend we went to Center Parcs and I discovered that now that I can run a bit, I can keep up with other stuff too. I played badminton and squash and enjoyed myself. My lack of Hand-Eye coordination means I’m never going to be any serious competition to Matt or my brother (my co-competitors last weekend) but I could run around a bit and certainly join in. So I’m enjoying being fitter

IMG_3527

2. Love love love love, crazy love

About 20 years ago now, a family came to be the ministers at my Grandma’s church, and as we happened to be visiting relatively regularly, my folks became their friends. And as happens when you’re 7, my brother and I ended up playing with their kids, Carla and Chris. Shortly after, these ministers got appointed to work in Brazil…yep, Brazil. So we were continents apart and…lets face it…7, so contact between us kiddliwinks was lost. Then their next role was in the good ol’ USA…still far away but by now we were teenagers and one year we went to visit them on holiday and we were all starting to not want to spend all of our time with our parents so we hung out. Then a few years later, Facebook! So us kiddo’s have kept in touch, and met up a few times, and suddenly 20 years have passed and all of us have lived in multiple cities/countries/continents but somehow have been each others constants in some ways by being consistently around and constantly in touch.  They’re kinda like family. So a natural progression was that Carla was one of my bridesmaids 2 years ago, and last year I went to America to be her Maid of Hono(u)r (See pic). Whilst I was there I got to meet Chris’ new lady friend and today I had an email to say they’re engaged!!

It is just wonderful when people have been in your lives for so many years and you watch their lives unfolding, albeit from a distance. Chris has grown into such a talented man of integrity and passion, and it is a privilege to know him. It is so great that he has met someone who is so beautiful, inside and out. Second to falling in love myself, I don’t think there is a greater joy than watching the people I love find happiness and start to build futures. Having met Meagan, and read her blog, I KNOW that Chris is getting a woman who will love, pursue, challenge and support him for years to come, and that is a great thing for a big sisterish to know!

carla wedding

3. Holidays

You may have gathered from some previous blogs that my job has its rough days, so it was wonderful last weekend to get away. We hit up Center Parcs and had a whale of a time. We did lots of the activities, but also did lots of relaxing and reading. Sunday morning we had our own little service and spend some precious times praying for one another and sharing what God has put on our hearts. I am blessed with beautiful people

IMG_3363Holidays in general are very important to me. I love to travel and see new places, but also, from time to time, I literally need to get away. I gradually get more and more exhausted, almost to the point that its visible, and I just need to be somewhere else for a while. Holidays is our achilles heel in terms of saving because I will always see travel as a worthwhile investment of our money.

4.Funny Events (Laughing at my husband)

I’ve mentioned before that Matt loves to run. He was out running on Friday afternoon as I was driving home from a visit. I was tired and hungry and then he phoned to say he’d lost his keys. They were in the special key pouch in his shorts, and they’d gone. So he retraced his steps, no sign. Went into the shop where he’d stopped to buy a drink. No keys. Went to the police station, no keys handed in so gave them his details. I picked him up and drove him home. I tried SO hard not to be cross, but I was pretty worried about how much a new car key would cost (£240 apparently) and I didnt know if our landlord would want us to change the locks, so I was as kind as I could be. He was so upset. And then he went to have a shower and his keys fell out of his pants. The complete befuddlement on his face made the whole sorry experience worth it.  We are both still baffled as to how he ran 5 miles looking for the keys without feeling them!! Hilarious. And every time he has said anything to me, all weekend, I’ve retorted with something about keys and pants and found myself highly amusing.

5. Home made pizza

This recipe. Amazing. Get involved

Update

You might remember a few weeks ago, I posted this about my struggles with prayer, and some of the things I’ve been thinking about it.

I’m still struggling, but have been trying to speak to the people in my world about it. I’ve asked lots of them what they think about it. That’s been helpful, and more challenging, and exciting, and scary.

But one of the people I spoke to said this to me, and it has really resonated.

“I’ve struggled with this too, and been challenged about the sovereignty of God and what I believe about it. But then I decided I want to be the kind of person who prays the boldest prayers I can think of, and believes for them to be answered.”

I want to be that kind of person. I want to live that kind of life. I’m not massively further on in what I think about it all, but I do know now that that’s where I want to head to

The pain of quilting

One of my new years resolutions this year was to learn to sew, like properly. So I attacked a hand embroidery picture as a gift for someone, and for my birthday I got a sewing machine.

CIMG1588

I had a sewing lesson from a friend of a friend and produced a pretty excellent cushion cover

photo1

and I made a couple of rag quilts which i’ve blogged/pinned/facebooked.

edge CIMG1623

But the main reason I wanted to learn to sew is because for YEARS I have wanted to make a quilt, like a proper one. I think they’re amazing, and I want to make them for everyone.

But…this week I made my first one.

And frankly I may never sew again.

Seriously, it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I cried, a lot!

But it was for someone I loved, so I have persevered and finished it.

It’s SO badly made, but my first one is out of the way, and I have learned many a lesson…

1. Making all your squares the same size actually matters. When you come to put them together, it matters.

2. If you leave the binding to the day before you have to give it to someone, it will be the worst day ever

3. If your mother in law teaches you a way to bind a quilt, and you choose to ignore her because you don’t want to do any hand sewing, then you have only yourself to blame.

4. If you are not a perfectionist every step of the way, the end product will be far from perfect.

5. If you love someone, it’s worth tears and horrible days if they love a gift you make them! And I think she liked it

finishedIMG_9750

Reasons to Smile 25/05

Some more lovely reasons to be smiley that I have found this week.

1) Hidden City

This beautiful girl turns 21 on Monday.

IMG_2371

For those of you who don’t know Sarah, she’s my brothers girlfriend. They’ve been together nearly a year, and he is crackers about her, and so are we. Imagine the loveliest person you know and double their loveliness, that’s Sarah. So today we went into London for an excellent afternoon tea to celebrate her birthday, and then she’d arranged a hidden city tour. So we split into 4 teams and each team received text clues which took us to a location in London where we had to find a hidden answer, send a text with said answer and then receive the next clue. It included a nice break in the middle for the teams to meet for a drink (or a McFlurry in Leicester Square which was what we ended up with). It was a brilliant way to get her guests to know each other and to spend some quality time in a beautiful city. Amazing!! For more about Hidden City tours, click here

2. Joy the baker blog

I stumbled across Joy the Baker yesterday after following a pin there. Oh my goodness, if my tastebuds could talk they would compose this blog. I have never seen such a collection of yummy foods that I cant wait to cook…in fact I didn’t wait, I literally cooked the balsamic strawberry flatbread yesterday and the orange gingerbread with cream cheese frosting today. I am so besotted with this blog and these foods!!

flatbread

3. Pitch Perfect

It’s hard to believe this hasnt made it onto one of these lists yet. Yes its trashy, yes its predictable, it’s still my favourite movie!! I love the acapella, I love the characters and I LOVE Fat Amy!!

4.  Using books to make boxes

I have had two birthdays to craft it up for this week, and for both I have used an old book, and cut it out to make a box as a receptacle for jewellry. Both girls got a necklace inside a book. It is the easiest and cutest craft ever!

book

5. Hannah’s jaunty hat.

jaunty

Enough said

Reasons to Smile 16/05

Lighterhearted than last weeks efforts, here are my top 5 for this week.

1) Its Eurovision Week

I just think Eurovision is the randomest, most hilarious thing ever. In what is now a tradition, we will be having a party, complete with costumes and European flag bunting, and I am excited!! Last years party resulted in some of these incredible costumes, and me wearing a turkey on my head, so I’m sure we are in for an excellent night

euro2012 turkey

 

2) The Office US.

Now, I know what I’m about to say is tantamount to blasphemy in many peoples book, but I am not a massive Ricky Gervais fan, and I didn’t love the Office. However, we started watching the US office on honeymoon and I just think it is one of the best TV shows ever!! I have never watched a show so capable of having me in both fits of laughter and genuine crying in the space of one episode. It’s a brilliant mix of characters, well written and so easy to watch. The last episode EVER airs in the US tonight (If Steve Carell doesnt show up for the final episode, that alone may make me cry) and I am excited…and a little sad. I challenge you to watch it and decide which of the below is the worlds greatest love story!! (also, the fact that Jim is almost identical to my brother cracks me up)

Jim Pam Dwight-dwight-schrute-14784674-384-288

3) This Video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ulTxAu0XlA

Best thing I’ve seen all week.

4) Those friends

You know the ones who challenge you, inspire you, get you? I have one particular friend, and not many people know how close we are, but she’s the person I am currently sharing my journey with. We have bi-weekly phone calls, and we have permission to give each other a real hard time about stuff, but mostly we dont. Mostly we empathise, share ideas, laugh at our similarities, laugh at our difference, share our faith journey, share our work stories, and remind each other about good things, and reasons to be positive. I need that inspiration. I am so blessed to have many wonderful people in my life, and I thank God daily for the different people in my life who are genuinely good for me. I have more than I deserve in that category.

5) Market Research

When I started uni, I signed up to every market research/clinical trial/mystery shopping shebang out there. Only one has stuck, so every week when I do our big shop, I have a little zapper to scan the barcodes of the stuff I buy. It barely takes any longer than regular unpacking would AND this week I claimed my rewards. £60 in Dorothy Perkins Vouchers.  That is a treat and a half!!

Prayer

This week I went to a child’s funeral.

No-one should EVER have to go to a child’s funeral. Its too awful. Children dying goes against the natural order of things doesn’t it? You’re born, you grow up, you grown old and THEN you die, that’s how it goes. The next generation rise up and replace the last…I’d better stop before I go all Lion King, but it’s true. A child dying before they have had their time is wrong, and unfair, and is gaspingly painful even to think about, and certainly to watch, but to face? As a parent? I have no idea how you even begin. Part of my job is to help parents figure that out, and I am so woefully inadequate to do that, and so painfully aware of my inadequacy. But I am also so incredibly privileged to share those most painful moments with people, and to be (very slowly) learning to tolerate their pain because most people can’t, and they need someone to hear it and believe it.

Last week, my husband prayed for me because I have had terrible back pain since I started running, and it got better. like no pain at all better!

And then yesterday I went to a child’s funeral.

WHAT?!

So my back pain was deserving of healing, but this child’s disease wasn’t?! SERIOUSLY?!

This new job of mine is challenging what I believe in a big way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in a place of doubting God’s existence, or even doubting my own relationship with Him, but I am certainly challenged about what I believe about prayer, and how I pray, and what I pray. I’m more aware than ever of the need to cling on to a belief that there is a higher plan, and a bigger picture that I can’t understand, and that God’s will, and the answers to my prayers, and the prayers of those families I work with, are held within that bigger plan.

But that is changing how I come to God. It’s changing how I pray, and what I pray, and why I pray. I’m coming to God for relationship more than I am for answers. And I cant promise that that isn’t because I’m scared to trust in those answers right now.

Friends who pray…why do you pray? and how do you pray? And what things have you read that have shaped and guided your prayer?

A very soppy bank holiday craft and the best thing I’ve ever cooked

I am loving this weather, and the long weekend, and did I mention the weather?! What a wonderful long weekend, spent mostly hidden away with my boy. We did a big ol’ spring clean on Saturday, proper emptying the cupboards, wiping the shelves, cleaning behind the oven stuff. Spent most of the day on it and it has made the whole place feel so much nicer!!!

CIMG1654

Yesterday was church, and naps, and a whole evening of Balderdash hilarity with our church family.  You know when it gets to 11pm and ‘riding crop’ gets read out as ‘riding crap’ that you have crossed the line into complete nonsense, and return is not an option.

And then today we have had various jobs to do, but also managed to squeeze in a trip to the Lavender tea rooms, which is my favourite summer place, and a wander round Salisbury in the sunshine.

CIMG1659 CIMG1660 CIMG1661

And then home to crafts and dinner. I saw this on Pinterest a few weeks ago and thought it was just too cute. So I got a gorgeous picture frame for just £3 from the league of friends shop at work, perfect. Inside is just scrapbook paper that I managed to print onto.

CIMG1665

Matt and I work pretty different schedules. His job means quite often he has to drive all over the country, meaning super early starts (like 5am) at which point he creeps round the house, sneaks in to kiss me goodbye to which I grunt and roll over and dont even know he’s been in. However, on the days he doesnt have to drive away, I get up about an hour and a half before he needs to, put all the lights on, use my hairdryer and ask him to make me tea. Because that’s marriage right?! hehe either way, often one or other of us has left before we’ve had a proper conversation in the morning and this seemed like a fun way to keep communicating. We’ve now been married nearly 2 years and it is fun to keep finding ways to show each other we’re still loved up.  So one dry wipe pen and a cheapy photo frame seemed like not too high a price.

CIMG1666

And now for dinner in the garden. I tried this recipe a few weeks ago and needed to do it again to make sure it wasnt a fluke. Am I the only one astounded by the goodness and easiness of french onion soup? Hands down the tastiest thing I’ve cooked, and I cook a lot (and I think most of it is pretty tasty.) YUM YUM YUM!! (Not clean eating,but good as a treat!)

Try it out.

CIMG1667

That’s all folks, I’m off the enjoy the sunshine!!

Reasons to Smile 03.05.2013

After the success of last week’s post, I’ve decided to do my 5 reasons to smile post again. This week’s been a harder one. Work has been tough, and I have struggled. But it is good for me to find reasons to smile. So here are this weeks.

1) It is salad time!!

It is finally time to stop buying/making soup for lunch at work. It is time to retire my (super awesome) thermos flask to the cupboard until October (Oh Lord, I believe) and start making awesome salads for us to have for lunch. I am SO excited. I have found 3 awesome recipes to try in the next week, what are your favourite salads??

Squash and Barley Salad

Stacked Pear Salads

Lebanese Lentil Salad

2) Yoga!!

I’ve been having some pretty epic back problems lately. Ever since I started running I’ve been having real bad pain. 3 trips to the chiropractor didn’t help (It also didn’t help my bank balance…), much ice-ing and ibuprofen didn’t help, but yoga is helping. Using an app called ‘Swork it pro’ and really giving it a good stretch a few times a week. Fully intend to get out for a run on Sunday to try it out, but the yoga has made me smile.

3) Live below the line

This week a few of my friends have been taking part in Live Below the Line…Living on £1 per day for 5 days to raise money and awareness for the 1.2 billion people who live with on this every day. Sadly, I have Crohns disease, and as such I cant take part (I’ve had at least one text from a participant suggesting that the impact on their bowels is more than I could take…too much info?!).

A friend of mine, Mr Gary Pitt, has done a video commentary which has been HILARIOUS!!! Check his videos out here

I feel massively blessed to know people who want to do this kind of thing,  I am glad that I have been challenged this week about what I spend money on and who I care about. As I wrote last week, my parents live in a country where a majority of people live below that line, so it is inspiring to have friends who are actively doing something about it. It is challenging me about what I can do.

If you fancy supporting this, my brother can be sponsored here or his lovely girlfriend here

4) Personalised Diet Coke

Picked up a bottle of diet coke at lunch today, and it said ‘enjoy diet coke with Emma.’ I was somewhat baffled, so went back to look at the other bottles in the fridge and found this treat

coke

5. LONG WEEKEND

I haven’t done a five day week in a while…this week has come as something of a shock to me, 5 whole days, in the office, 5 days of getting up early and trying to find somewhere to park in the flippin hospital car park. So Bring On The Bank Holiday!!!!! I am excited about 3 whole days with the handsomest man I ever did meet, and spring cleaning my house and eating some freaking salad!!!

What things have made you smile this week?

 

Salmon and broccoli frittata

Dinner tonight…so tasty it’s worth sharing.

500g new potatoes

2 salmon fillets

1 cup broccoli, finely chopped

1tbsp pesto

2 tbsp pine nuts

8 eggs, beaten.

 

1. Boil the potatoes for 15 minutes. Add the broccoli for the last 5 minutes.

2. Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan, slice the potatoes and add to the pan.

3. Put the salmon fillets in a microwaveable bowl. Sprinkle with water and cover with cling film. Microwave on full power for 2 minutes.

4. Put all 8 eggs in a bowl and beat. Add 1 tbsp of pesto, and flake the salmon into the egg mixture.

5. Add brocolli to the frying pan and pour the egg mixture over the top. Heat on high for around 5 minutes so that the sides are set and the middle is beginning to solidify.

6. Sprinkle pine nuts over the top of the mixture, then place under the grill until set and browned.

Served this with a big ol’ salad and some mango chutney (I like to put chutney with most meals…). Makes 4 good sized portions, although Matt enjoyed it so much he had two of those portions. But there is still some for my lunch tomorrow 🙂

Yum!