Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Christmas Holidays

We went down to Victoria for Christmas, to visit Mum's family and spend a few weeks with them.  We had a lovely time in Stawell, and the surrounding towns, and I took lots of photos! So here we go, a photo run-down of our 2 1/2 weeks down south...

Pa and all of us kids (- me, because I took the photo) waiting for the Stawell Christmas street parade

It is so incredibly dry down south!

...And yet so pretty at the same time

We took the Transit 'offroading' up a mountain bush track and took photos of the sunset one night.This was taken at about 9:30pm. 

While we are on holidays, we tend to go to a lot of cafes for lunch.  And of course, while sitting at the table waiting for our orders, we take photos!

Real life, authentic Aboriginal art....

The whole area is overshadowed by the Grampians Mountain ranges

This is at the Botanical gardens in Ballarat (a city about 1.5-2 hours from Stawell) Ballarat is where Mum spent her teenage years and also where Pa lived until just a few years ago when he moved back to Stawell, his childhood town.

Mum and Dad were married in Ballarat, and we found the spot where they had their wedding photos taken....23 years later

Overlooking the town of Stawell

We all jumped out and took photos of the view

Another day, another cafe lunch photo session.  :)

We headed up into the Grampians, and stopped by this man made lake, which supplies water to nearby towns

On the other side of the lake.

This is up on the mountain at one of the lookouts.  You can see for kilometers!

We went on a bushwalk which was only supposed to be 1km in and out, but that was a very conservative estimate. Anyway, partway down, people had stacked up hundreds of rocks into little piles.  It was very odd.

Miss Ann (3), enjoying the bushwalk

The view from the end of the '1km' trail... It is hard to see in the picture, but the green is not grass, but all trees

Heading back down the mountain

This is another mountain in the Grampians called Elephant's Hide, because the surface is rock, and looks like the skin of an elephant.  We didn't stop there though, so the picture was a drive by shot.

We went to a place called Vaughn Springs, where they have a really long slide down the mountain. Unfortunately, it poured rain about 20 minutes after we got there, and we had to leave.  But it was still fun.  :)

Joy and Ann in Horsham, another nearby town about 40 minutes from Stawell

Sunset at our caravan park.  Once again, this photo was taken at about 9:30 - it stays light for a long time down south!
Elise stole all our pillows to sit on while we were driving home - all 14 hours and 5 minutes of the trip.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Listen! The Angels are Singing

Carols are a wonderful part of Christmas time, but do we ever stop to think about what we are singing?  The songs which many were penned years and years ago, hold wonderful truths and beautiful meanings behind the well-known lyrics.  Hark the Herald Angels Sing is one such carol.  It was written by Charles Wesley, in 1739.   I have re-written the lyrics to Hark below - Hope you enjoy and Merry Christmas!  :)

Listen!  The angels are singing
"Glory to Jesus, the newborn King!"
There is peace and mercy on earth now
Because Jesus brings God and sinners together
All the countries of the world stand and be joyful
Join all of creation in singing His praises
Join the angels and sing loudly,
"Christ is born in Bethlehem!"
Listen!  The angels are singing
"Praise be to Jesus, the newborn King!"

Christ is adored in the highest heavens
Christ is the everlasting Lord
We have waited years, now see Him here
He was born of a virgin, He is her child
He is God, and yet has become human
Welcome Him as the Holy God
He loves us enough to come among us and to live with us
Jesus, our Savior, God with us.
Listen!  The angels are singing
"Give glory to the newborn King!"

Welcome the Prince of Peace, who came from heaven
Welcome the Son of truth and righteousness
He will bring light and life to everyone
And he will rise from the grave with healing and power
As a baby, He lies quietly, setting aside His glory
He was born that we no longer had to die for our sins
He was born to raise us up from our lives of sin and despair
He was born to give us a second life, and a new birth 
Listen!  the angels are singing:
"Let's praise and give all honor and glory to Jesus, our new born king!"

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Gingerbread house night!

Last night was our Church's annual gingerbread house building night! After weeks of planning, days of ordering, shopping, and budgeting, hours of packing lollies, and many last minute jobs to complete - the night came together. Our car and house smelt like a lolly shop and bakery while our study became so packed with lollies and tablecloths you could barely move. This year was a lot bigger than last year: In 2014 we had 83 people attend, this year it was over 130! To give you an idea of what that is in reality, here are a few numbers:
I bought:
💮  19kg of bullets
💮 19kg of freckles
💮 50m of licorice
💮 1260 musk sticks
And the list goes on! We also packed over 700 individual bags of lollies and tied more twisty ties than I care to count! Anyway, here are a few photos from the night.  By the end of the night, we had raised about $800 for Missons. 
What 102 gingerbread houses flat packs look like

All set up, ready to go

Extra lollies and gingerbread men for sale

We had 16 tables, ranging from 6 to 13 people at each table

Decorating the houses!

Just starting to decorate...
We finished them off by dusting them in icing sugar and wrapped them in cellophane, tied with a ribbon
One of the 96 completed houses

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Letter

To the Body of Christ ~ His Church,

I know you are reeling from the sudden turns of events in Paris and in the world, and I know that everything seems confused in at the moment.   But let me say, don't loose sight of what is happening here.  We shouldn't be surprised, we shouldn't be taken aback.  These times were long ago predicted in the Bible.  Our response shouldn't be one of fear or confusions, like those who have no light, for we have the Light.

I sorrow for those who have lost loved ones, for those whose lives have been torn apart by these tragic events, for those wives who no longer have a husband, for the children who no longer have a mother or a father, or both, for the grandparents who have lost their grandchildren, for the close friends and extended circles.  So many lives lost, so many more hearts broken, so many people now waking up, and wishing they didn't have to face the morning.  We cry with them, and we hold their hand through pain that we cannot even begin to imagine. 

But my heart is broken for the Muslims, those who have lost their way, these precious people whom God loved, whom God sent His only Son to save, and who longs to hold them as close to His heart and He holds me, and holds you.  These people are not the enemy, rather, they are the victims.  They are the victims to a lifelong time of fear, of evil and of hate.  Their actions are not right, and they are not to be excused, but the gift of salvation still extends to them.   The same God who reached out to me and to you, reaches out to them, and waits only for a whispered prayer to receive them into paradise. 

We need to stand up for these people - the ones who are so lost their eyes are blind, their ears are defeaned.  We need to interceed for those who cannot see the way by themselves. Without our example, how they are going to know the love of Christ?

The world might be closing the borders on the Muslims, they might be shutting their doors, retaliating with soldiers and with violence, but we, the Children of God, we must never close our hearts.

I not only stand for Paris, I also stand for Iraq, I stand for Kenya, I stand for Egypt, I stand for Bali, I stand for the USA, I stand for Australia, I stand for every country that has been touched by the terrorist attacks, and every country which needs God even more today than they did yesterday.  And I pray that you will stand with me and in Him, for without His hope, the world has no reason to live.  And without His love, we have nothing to give.

 I want to finish with this song from Planetshakers 'We cry out'.  Please listen and make it your heart's cry, for only when we turn to God will we see change in this world.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Church Camp and Carols

Well, it has been awhile!  It is coming into Summer, into the Christmas season, towards the end of the year,  the times of cooler summer nights, while the days reach a delightful 40 or so degrees (no sarcasm - I love the heat  :)  )

Our annual church family camp was only a few weeks ago, and was heaps of fun.  It was held at Tahlee, so it was different for me to be actually participating in a camp, rather than cooking for it - although I did that too.  :) Our Church camp is rather relaxed and chilled, without much planned, so there is plenty of time to just hang out with each other fellowship.  I had been at Tahlee cooking all week leading up to the camp, so it was great fun to greet each new arrival as they trickled in over the course of Friday afternoon / evening.  The first thing that was planned on Saturday was indoor games in the morning, so we all met in the main auditorium where we played games such as  Ninja, Ship Shore Deck, Lifeboat and Capture the Flag.  the games were good fun, although I was in the yellow team, and we so totally lost.  ;) 

Afterwards, our Church has this unique tradition at camp where we do gumboot throwing competitions, I know, strange isn't it?!?  But anyways, it is actually more fun than what one would think.  We played in categories, preschoolers, primary aged girls, primary aged boys, high school girls, high school boys, then adults, both men and ladies.  It hadn't occurred to me that, seeing I finished school last year and had had a birthday since, I was actually in the open aged ladies competition, until we were lining up.  But, there I was.  So when it was my turn and picked up the boot and chucked it as far I could.  Some of the others had techniques and would spin the boot around and around before throwing up, gaining momentum, I guess.  Others would do a bit of a run up.  I just stood there and threw it, but it must have been the power of a left-hander, because, to my great surprise and shock, I won the ladies category with a throw of over 11 meters!  I won a bag of Freddo Frogs  :D

On Saturday night, Mum and I ran a Family Feud Trivia Night.  We had deliberated long and hard over this night, because a standard family feud game only includes 8 people (we had about a 100) and a trivia night would probably go over the younger kid's heads.  So, after quite a few brainstorming sessions, and a few late night calls on the week leading up to the camp while I was at Tahlee, we came up with a mixture.  During the afternoon, we set up tables in the auditorium, with 8-10 people at each table.  When everyone entered, they made teams at the tables.  Each table got to choose 4 people to come up to the front and play a Family Feud round (if you don't know what I mean by Family Feud, it is a game show on channel 10 - look it up!  :P)  Between each Family Feud round, there was bonus rounds, and each round accumulated points for an overall winning table of the night.  The bonus rounds varied from general trivia night quizzes, to quizzes on movie quotes, a don't forget the lyrics round (where we would play a segment of a song cutting it off part way and they had to write down the next lyrics)  and a few rounds especially for kids - including a spelling bee.  It was a really fun night and although Mum and I were both absolutely exhausted by the end of it, it was well worth the work and effort we had put in. 

Sunday morning we held Church by the lake, which was lovely, as usual.  the best thing was that this year - a first in the 5 years we have had Church camp - it didn't rain!  After the church service, we had water baptism in the lake and then a shared BBQ lunch.  It was a lovely time, and afterwards, it was time to go home.  I think at least 4 of us kids came home lobsters from the sun! :P

One last thing before I go, or you go, one or the other!  ;)

  It is coming, rather rapidly, up to our Church's annual Christmas Production.  The carols include a variety of singalong carols, song items, and drama.  If any of you are in the vicinity, and would like to come along - it is on the 6th of December, 2015, at Generate Church, corner of New England Highway and Kelso Street Singleton, NSW.  We have free entertainment - such as jumping castles, rock climbing, etc.  - from 3:30pm and dinner is available (I think it is something like hot dogs for $1.50 - but don't quote me on that!  :P)  - and  our cafe will be open, from where you can buy anything from a milkshake to a coffee.  The carols start 7:00pm, and finish at 8:30, so it doesn't go too late.  If you have any further questions or queries, please comment and I will do my best to answer them.  :)  We would love for you to be there if you can make it!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Farewell Rainbow Cake

A friend from our Church is going to England as an exchange student for six months - leaving today, actually!  So I was asked to bake a farewell cake for her at our youth group.  It was the first time I had done a farewell cake, so I hit google to try and find out which design to do.  In the end, this was what I ended up with....

Making the cakes:  I decided to make a rainbow cake.  Well, actually, everyone else decided that I should make a rainbow cake.  I was feeling tired and not too well, so I didn't feel like putting in the effort for a rainbow, so I went searching online for an easier way to make them.  I had made two different types of rainbow cakes before:  the first method is to place all your coloured batter in separate Ziploc bags, snip off the end, and put a drizzle in the bottom of the pan.  Then get the next colour, and repeat.  Continue until all the batter is used up.  This makes the cake come out in little stripes, like in the middle of this cake:

 The other method is to bake the cakes all separately and join them with together with icing later.  Although both methods work well, they are time consuming and I didn't have a lot of that.  So instead, I coloured each cake and poured them into the pan on top of each other, hoping that it wouldn't come out a nasty brown. 

These were my colours:  (I have seemed to lost one of the photos, there were 5 colours...  )

I poured the mixture in on top of each other.  And then tapped the pan several times on the bench to get rid of any air bubbles.  It took a loooong time to cook, and I probably had too much mixture in the pan, but anyways! 
 This is the mixture poured in - and then I swirled it just a little with a knife before cooking it (Right)

And this is after it is cooked: (I cut it open to fill it with icing and also to see how it worked out.)  I was happy - and relieved! - with the results.

 For the icing, I decided to try something new, as you do when you are cooking a cake for a event! :P I read that adding copha to the icing would make it set harder crust better to get a nicer finish.  I had to leave the copha out in the sun for about 9 hours before it was soft enough to be beaten up.  Here is the recipe:

It makes quite a lot of icing, well and truly enough to this cake, and I put a lot on!

500g butter
250g copha
1kg icing mixture
Splash of milk

Beat butter and copha together until fluffy and white.  Add icing mixture and beat well, scraping down the sides regularly.  Add milk if it needs to be a little thinner.  

Then I iced the cake blue, cut out fondant countries, and made a little plane.  I didn't get photos of the process, but here is the finished product: (the lighting isn't great, but by the end I really couldn't care less if the photos came out well :P)