Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Bind my wandering heart to Thee

Distraction is my biggest weakness right now.

I could blame society. After all we are the short attention span generation, the multi-taskers, the always 'busy', the ones who need the new, the fresh, the exciting, the ones who move on quickly.

That is probably part of it. Another part is that I don't even really attempt to really discipline my mind or my time. I get on the internet and its Facebook, blogs, recipes, pinterest, news websites, and BOOM, two hours have gone. Two hours when I really could have studied, cleaned the house, gone for a run, done some invoices, or even read a good book.

By wasting my time, by having an unfocused mind, I am wasting so many opportunities. I'm spending too much time on things less than worth of my time. These things are ok in moderation, and with purpose, but that is not where I am at right now.

Up and coming in our church is a fast for 3 weeks. Traditionally you would fast food of some type, and the purpose is to give something up, and spend time with God in the moments you would have been eating. To sharpen our minds, and let them rule over our bodies, instead of the other way around.

This fast I won't be giving up food, because giving up food won't be a sacrifice for me. Instead I aim to give up wasteful distractions for a few weeks, namely

-The blogs I love (Girls gone child, a cup of Jo, Picnic by the motorway and so on.)
-Wasteful internet sites like failblog
-All recipe sites except when I actually need a recipe
-And all other time wasting sites. (so, not email, or work/study related stuff.)
-Books or naps when I should be studying or doing other things
-I will continue with this blog, if I know my writing has a purpose. If I am doing it as a distraction, then thats a no go, so there may be less posts here.

This fast is only for 3 weeks, and I am excited and a bit scared. I know not having my time wasted will be so beneficial. Even if my church weren't doing a fast, I know I need some time out, to re-prioritise my time and where my mind is wandering. I feel like I need a mind cleanse or detox, to go cold turkey so I can decide what is important, to retrain my mind to be effective and useful, and to spend more time with God.

I don't know how the 3 weeks will go. I hope at the end I have a better perspective on how I use my time, and I will be able to wean myself back on in moderation. After all these distractions aren't bad in themselves, its just the way I am using them.

We are lucky to have free will, and choice in how to live our lives. It's time for change in mine. This process might take much longer than three weeks, but I'm ok with that. Breaking a habit and forming new ones takes time. In the meantime, my daily prayer will be;

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Paper ♥

Day 1

I Matthew, take you Jennifer to be my lawfully wedded wife. In the presence of God, our family and friends, I solemnly vow to be your faithful husband in sickness and in health and in joy as well as in sorrow. 
I promise to provide for you, encourage you, fight for you and love you extravagantly; to help you live life to the fullest and to achieve your hearts deepest desires. Today I give myself to you, solely and completely.

I Jennifer take you Matthew to be my lawfully wedded husband. In the presence of God, our family and friends, I offer you my solemn vow to be your faithful wife in sickness and in health and in joy as well as in sorrow. 
I promise to love you, to honour and respect you and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.
Today I give you all that I have of myself and my love. I place your love as a seal upon my heart.

One month

Two Months

Three months

Four Months

Five Months

Six months
No photo of us this month. Instead enjoy a photo of our flourishing plant babies from July.
Seven Months

Eight Months

Nine Months
Don't ask

Ten Months

Eleven Months

Twelve Months

When two people love each other, their words are sweet and strong like the fragrance of orchids
They put their hand into the others heart, and pass over all the foolish and weak things they see
They draw out into the light all the beautiful belongings the other contains

When two people love each other, they share their joy, multiply their hope
They share their pain, divide the sorrow
They walk alongside each other, as they travel though life

When two people love each other, and hand in hand they vow their love
There is no tighter bond and none can break, or weaken or fray it
When two people love each other, they give all they have to the other, and step out into the beginning of their days
They rest in each others arms, and that love is their home.

(A poem by me, written for our wedding day.)


Your love is sealed upon my heart. Happy Paper anniversary, my love xo 

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Chocolate Cake with Mint Choc-chip Icing (Dairy Free + Normal Recipe)

When I saw this cake, I knew I had to make it. Mint and chocolate are perfect companions, and this cake looked devine.

I actually made it twice in two days. Once as a trial run - a one layered dairy version for a family dinner. And then for a friends kitchen tea party, as a double layered dairy free version.

Both were delish, in my opinion.

The recipe for the dairy cake was a yoghurt chocolate cake. I recommend using yoghurt in your baking when possible as it makes the baking so moist and delicious.
For this cake, I used the icing as stated in the original link, but I made only 1/3 of it, as I was icing a small cake. 

For a trial run, it was a hit, and was devoured by my in laws.

For the kitchen tea party though, I knew I had to step it up a notch.

Dairy Free Chocolate cake with mint chocolate chip icing

Sorry for the photo quality... my camera died.

Heat the oven to 180C

Grease 2 20cm baking tins (or if you only have one, bake one at a time.)

To do a double layer cake you will need to double the below recipe.

In a medium bowl, sift together: 

250g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour 
4 tbsp cocoa powder 
250g (1 cup) caster sugar 
1 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp salt 

In a separate bowl, mix together: 

5 tbsp (1/3 cup) of vegetable oil or apple puree 
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla essence 
250ml (1 cup) warm water. 

Slowly mix the liquid into the dry ingredients until just mixed, do not over mix. It is important you do not just dump the liquid into the dry ingredients (like I did) because you will end up with lumps of flour. Pour it in slowly and mix as you go.

Pour into the prepared tins and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Take from the oven and let them cool.

For a double layer cake you will need to make the bottom layer flat, so you will need to cut off the domed top. I would recommend getting a long piece of dental floss and pulling it slowly through to pull off the top, to make a flat surface.


For the icing, I used the same recipe as for the dairy version, but with dairy-free margarine as a butter substitute (I could not tell the difference taste wise.)

280g dairy free margarine
500g icing sugar (about 4 cups), sifted
2-3 tsp peppermint essence, adjust to taste
150g dark chocolate, very finely chopped or pulsed through a food processor
green food colouring (about 6 drops)

(This makes a lot of mixture. You might want to start with less and work your way up, lest you end up with left over mixture like me.)

Prepare the mint icing; Place margarine in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on high until fluffy and smooth. Add sifted icing sugar one cup at a time, beating until combined. Add peppermint essence to taste and green food colouring. Gradually add chocolate chip pieces until you have a good distribution of chocolate bits.

First ice the top of the bottom layer cake - this will be your 'filling.' Then place the top cake on. Ice the whole cake (do not heat your icing spatula or the chocolate will melt, making the icing brown in colour.)

If you have left over icing, wait for it to harden (put it in the fridge), then make 'ice cream scoops' to put on top. Put small waffle cones on to make it look like cones.

Yes, a lot of people thought this was an icecream cake.

Enjoy! xo

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Summer Vegetable Tart

This dish is so summery and light, its perfect for eating outside on a still evening. You can make this as one big tart or a few medium size tarts, or (as I did for New Years) make about 24 mini ones in muffin tins.

This recipe is from Foodtown magazine, which I personally think is the best(/most realistic to make) food magazine out there at the moment. Yes, I feel a bit ashamed at liking a supermarkets own magazine, but its good (Matt and I are using a lot of recipes from it), so I have overcome the shame.

Summer Vegetable Tart


1/4 cup olive oil
1 Cup diced red/yellow capsicum
1 courgette, diced
1 small eggplant, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 teaspoon vegetable stock

2 eggs
1 cup cream
1/2 cup parmesan or normal cheese and parmesan or normal cheese for sprinkling
freshly ground pepper and salt.

Buy shortcrust pastry, or make your own. (I have done both for this recipe. Homemade is better!)
Use any shortcrust pastry recipe, or the one below:

1 Cup flour
Pinch of salt
90g cold butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tspn ice cold water

Looks SO healthy. Don't worry we'll be adding cheese and cream soon


Pop all the ingredients (except water) into a food processor, and process until it becomes like a pastry. Add the water and more butter if necessary. Slightly kneed the mixture, then let it rest for 30 mins in the refrigerator in glad wrap.

On a slightly floured surface, roll out flat to make the size you need. Cut the shapes out if you are doing the muffin sized version, or roll out smaller balls for the medium sized version.

Put in tin/s and brush with water. For the large or medium size ones you will need to blind bake, so brush with water or egg yolk, and bake at 180 for about 15-20 mins.

Tart filling:
Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the diced veges and the stock powder. Saute for about 5-10 mins.
Fill the tart/s with the mixture. In another bowl whisk the eggs and cream together, add parmesan/cheese and season to taste. Pour over the tart/s. Sprinkle extra cheese on top and cook at 180 for about 15-20 minutes

We ate it with homemade garlic bread. (I'm gonna save that recipe for another time. You could just google a recipe for it. You really should google a recipe and make it right now, cos garlic bread is SO good.)

Enjoy! X

Friday, 20 January 2012

Easy Cake Decoration

You guys probably know I am into baking, and I like making cakes, but my decoration skills are not that hot. Not hot at all. But because I know some easy tricks, I seem to have fooled people into thinking I am a baker extraordianaire!

Here are some easy ways to decorate a cake

Image Credit
All you need to do is a regular icing, then get cookie cutters of different sizes and gently place them on the icing. Through the cookie cutters sprinkle hundreds and thousands or chocolate or nuts - anything you like. Contrasting colours will look better.

Image Credit
Drizzle icing is perfect for lemon cake. Just make the icing (which is usually lemon juice with a bit of icing sugar) and drizzle on when the cake has cooled

For this one you will need an icing bag with star tips, you will need to do a thin base layer first of normal icing. Then fill your icing bag and swirl the icing with a star tip to get this effect. The icing will need to be really hard (lots of icing sugar) for this to work. You could choose to do an ombre effect (different shades) or just one colour.

Image Credit
Ok, this cake picture couldn't describe what I imagined in my mind. I wanted a chocolate cake covered with malteasers as decoration. Forget the weird things on the top and the double layer, for a simple chocolate cake, you could do a thin icing and stick heaps of malteasers to it. Yum!

Image Credit
This one is so easy. Just do your normal icing and stick some chopped nuts (walnuts here) on the side (or maybe on the top instead.)

Image Credit
For this, you will need a thin base of icing first. Stick the kit kats to the side, tie with a ribbon if needed/wanted. And cover the top with pebbles. (Then eat left over icing, kit kats and pebbles.) Easy!

Image Credit
A normal icing with some sprinkles placed around the edge. To get it right you might want to cut out some baking paper in a circle for the middle and gently place it on the iced cake. Then shake the sprinkles on and then take the baking paper off.

This icing is supposed to look like ice cream (just add chopped chocolate to your mix, and green food colouring and mint essence if you want it to look like this.) You can use balls of icing and cones to make an ice cream 'display' on top.

I don't really need to describe this one, just do as the pic shows!

You can use buttercream (or use dairy free margarine) or cream cheese icings for any of these, except the drizzle icing.

There you go, so many easy ways to make a cake look great. I have tried hardly any of them (hence why they are all internet photos), but I will be soon... which one should I start with....?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Another Murdered Baby

I turned on the news the other night to hear about another murdered baby, right here in gods-own, New Zealand.

Again I feel distraught and oh so ashamed at our countries track record of kids murdered by the ones that should have been protecting them.

I don't know what to say, and I don't have any pithy advice. Partly because I assume anyone reading this is the type not to be involved in this. And because it is so out of my sphere of living that I just can't comprehend it.

Child abuse is obviously a huge and complex issue, with links to poverty, upbringing, and lack of support. But a part of it is just that the people perpetrating this are evil.

All I can say, is that this is one area where I think more government/social intervention is needed. I would be willing to give up my privacy with future children, if some sort of regular non-optional check up was carried out. I don't mind being looked at with suspicion if for example my child breaks an arm and ends up in the emergency room. I wouldn't like it, but I would deal with it. I don't mind smacking being illegal if it means that more abusers will be picked up earlier.

If you have any ideas about combating child abuse, have a look at the Green Paper currently open for discussion.

If I had a magic pill to stop child abuse and never hear another horrific story like this again I would. It breaks my heart every time.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Friday, 13 January 2012

Don't believe the lies

Don't believe the lies

You know what I mean. The magazines and photos contained within that make you die a little inside because you will never be that beautiful/stunning/skinny or have perfect skin/teeth/hair

See the lies in action;

We all know about unattainable beauty that is presented to us everyday. Looks so unattainable they are only achievable by a computer.
I used to look at these pictures, and read articles on how to get 'perfect skin' or 'party makeup.' But I slowly realised these articles weren't imparting much (if any) useful knowledge (nothing I couldn't learn from a friend), and in essence were making me feel very inadequate and basically ugly. I would never be as beautiful as these girls, and there was not much I could do about it. It felt to me as if they were flaunting their beauty in my face. 

Never ending images of beautiful women, and unachievable ideas are the bane of our generation. We can't escape the images. But we can change the way we look at them, and reduce the amount we see.

I now try to avoid images that are going to make me criticise myself - after all what is the point of wasting energy on berating myself for not meeting some arbitrary standard of beauty? So I avoid beauty/fashion magazines - or if I read them, I skip all the model sections and all the ads. I don't watch music videos, and try to avoid websites where this kind of beauty is portrayed.

I feel so much better in myself for this - constant comparing can wear you down. Having that weight lifted is such a nice feelings. And it stops you always thinking ugly thoughts about your looks.

But hey - if you really really wanna look perfect, well I have the product for you....

"This commercial isn't real, neither are society's standards of beauty."

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Of being under the weather

Lately I have been a bit sick. I got a tummy bug about 3 weeks ago, and ever since have been finding it hard to eat, as I have been getting mega bad reflux, and pain when eating. This has lead to weight loss (at first yay! no more pregnancy guesses. Then... oh no... this is going a bit too low.) And the general ill feeling that comes with being a bit under the weather.
I went to the doctor and got some meds that help keep the reflux down - yay! But they also are inducing a zombie like doziness about me that is leading to 9pm bedtimes and 4-5 naps a day (thank God I'm not working full time yet.) So, off the meds I come. At least I can function like a human with reflux.

The good part is that I am allowed to eat anything I can, including ice cream, milkshakes and dairy food yoghurt ;)

Being a bit unwell has made me realise how good I have it when all is well! And how hard it is to function when you're just a little sick. I wonder how people with ongoing, permanent illness cope?
I'm they type of person who prays, but I have found it so hard to get the mental energy to pray these past few days. My prayers have been more of the 'God, please help, then end' variety than the long winded ones I am usually capable of (not that brevity is a bad thing...).

Anyway, I am feeling a bit better now :) and I am seeing more doctors soon, so I am excited to hear the answers they have.

And, because this blog has been all about me, with no discernable purpose, here are some funny pictures to make up for it:

Not my cake. But will keep this in mind for future purposes...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...