My husband loves cinnamon. No, seriously. LOVES it. You’d think living in the home of a frequent baker would be enough to make any man happy. My man just complains that I don’t make enough things with cinnamon in them *eye roll*
Well, luckily for him, I was in the indulgent mood this morning… and I made a carrot cake (recipe to follow in the next few weeks) that resulted in two egg whites that I just couldn’t let go to waste.
So I threw together these beauties. Aren’t they just fabulous?
What I love about this recipe is that I can make these little treats in almost no time at all whenever I have a recipe that call for egg yolks and no whites. The result is a bunch of tasty meringues that are crunchy on the outside and gloriously chewy on the inside. Here’s how it’s done:
Beat two room temperature egg whites in a clean, grease-free bowl until they reach the stiff peak stage. I was always told that if you could hold the bowl upside down over your head, the eggs have been beaten enough. If not, you have some mess to clean up.
Once your eggs are beaten, add 3/4 cup of castor sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. You should have a thick, glossy mixture remaining. Then fold in 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon followed by 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips.
Spoon out the mixture onto a paper-lined baking tray. The meringues won’t grow too much, but be sure to leave a little space in between each one. You can decide what size you’d like them to be. I do about a desert spoon size for each one. I like to add some chocolate sprinkles to the top of each one for that extra bit of flare.
Then pop your little beauties into a oven preheated to 160 degrees centigrade. Bake for 20 minutes and then turn your oven off. Leave the meringues in the oven for another ten minutes before removing them. Allow to cool and find a good place to hide them so you won’t have to share 😉
Today I’ve been thinking about sorrow; about sadness and grief. I know, it sounds awful. What a sorry life I must live right? Just hold up a minute and you’ll understand.
I loved the new (can I still call it that?) Pixar movie Inside Out. I thought it was such an accurate description of how many of us treat sadness. We shove it away, push it aside and attempt to carry on with life, not realising that by repressing this vital emotion, we begin to numb ourselves to feeling anything.
I have always felt this kind of pressure within the church. I’ve felt the need to be happy all the time, to always have a smile on my face, no matter what I might be facing. After all, we are commanded to be joyful in suffering, are we not? The Bible tells us to rejoice and praise the Lord, no matter what our circumstances are.
I always thought that this meant that I was to be happy all the time. That I was to skip into church on a Sunday morning with a beaming smile on my face, even though my grandmother passed away the night before. That when someone asks, “How are you doing?” my answer was always to be, “Absolutely fantastic! God is so good!”
But yesterday I realised that this is not something that God expects of us.
Sadness is natural and healthy. It is a perfectly normal reaction to a world tarnished with sin and death and pain. Even Jesus experienced sadness and wept.
Times of sorrow are necessary. They are times of reflections. Times of looking at a broken world and knowing that it was never meant to be like this. Times of longing for something better. Tears may burn, but they also heal. They allow release of emotions that cannot always be expressed. They are not a sign of weakness (as I spent many years believing) but a sign of humanity.
You see, being joyful in suffering does not mean that no sorrow is experienced or expressed. Rather, it means that no matter how great the sorrow is, God is still praised, He is still trusted and He is still believed to be good. That is strength.
So next time you’re feeling hurt, depressed or just sad, don’t send Sadness away! Embrace it. Sigh. Cry it out. But through it all, keep your eyes on Jesus and His goodness and get back up. Fight another day.
While the northern hemisphere is enjoying beautiful warm summer weather, the rest of us on the other side of the world are going through winter. Luckily, in sunny South Africa, our winters are mostly pretty mild. We get snowfall once in a blue moon, but the rest of the time we have cold mornings and warm afternoons with the occasional cold front.
Now, it most certainly doesn’t have to be cold for me to enjoy a mug of hot chocolate, but I like to save the good stuff for the colder days. This is the good stuff… rich, creamy hot chocolate to warm your insides and your soul =)
The recipe is simple:
Heat 3/4 of a cup of milk together with the same amount of cream in the microwave. Keep an eye on it. As it starts to bubble, take it out quickly as it will boil over in a matter of seconds.
Stir in 80 grams of good quality chocolate and a teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder (I like to use Cadbury Bournville cocoa). Once the mixture is smooth and all the chocolate is melted, it’s ready for drinking! It’s pretty rich so you might want to consider sharing =)
If you’re feeling adventurous, try spicing things up a bit by doing one of the following:
-add a pinch of cinnamon and cayenne pepper for a Mexican flavour
-add a tablespoon of your choice of liqueur (Amarula is my personal favourite)
-add a dollop of salted caramel and top with whipped cream for some serious decadence
Father’s day can be a painful one for many. I think of those who have lost fathers and those who have lost children. I think of those who’s fathers walked out and those who’s children are estranged.
I think about the many times that I wished that my own father was worth celebrating on Father’s day. I think of the many father daughter dances I’ve watched through misty eyes. I think of all the times I’ve wondered why me and my family weren’t good enough for him to stick around.
But then I think of my step dad.
My step father stepped in and stepped up. He stuck around and continues to do so. He looked after us and cared for us. He attended ballet concerts and award ceremonies. He was there.
I spent so many of my younger years so focused on the hurt my father had brought me that I missed the man standing right in front of me. Sure, he might not be the ‘fun’ guy or the emotional one. He might be strict and stubborn and a little obsessive compulsive about stupid things, but he is funny and loyal and protective and responsible. He learned to love a family that was broken and complicated and he made it his own.
And that is why he walked me down the aisle.
Not because my own father wasn’t available and willing, because trust me, he was and he made it clear.
No, my step dad gave me away because he earned it. He earned the heck out of it!
So I just want to take a minute to honour the step dads out there. You are brave and you are strong. It is such a loving thing you are doing! Thank you for stepping in when others stepped out. For putting on your big boy pants and doing the right thing. For making the tough decisions and sticking it out when things get rough. Thank you for not giving up on us!
Today I am sharing with you one of my favourite quick dessert recipes. I love to make this when I feel like something chocolatey, but don’t have the time or energy to make an entire chocolate cake. This recipe makes two perfect portions of warm chocolate cake. Here’s how it’s done:
Firstly, you’re going to need two medium sized mugs. In the one mug, add 30ml butter and 60ml chocolate chips. Toss it in the microwave for a minute or so and mix with a fork until it’s all melted and smooth. In the other mug, use the same fork to beat one egg and 60ml sugar. Your two mugs will look something like this:
Then add 30ml all purpose flour, half a teaspoon of vanilla essence and a pinch of salt to the egg mug. Mix well, ensuring that there are no lumps.
Add the chocolate mixture to egg mug and mix until all is incorporated. Divide the final batter between the two mugs evenly and sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top of each. Now all you have to do is pop the mugs into the microwave for about two minutes. Your result should be a light, spongy, moist cake in each mug.
Kick it up a notch and add some cream, ice cream or custard before digging in to deliciousness!
When you have a baby, getting out of the house is hard. It doesn’t matter where you’re going, it seems to take a week’s worth of planning and preparation to actually make it out of the door successfully. This has changed a lot of things for me. My weekly grocery shopping has turned into a monthly affair. Suddenly, I have baby shower gifts ready weeks before the actual event. Last minute trips are no longer an option. I have ONE chance to get there, ONE chance to get what I need and only ONE chance to get it right. Failure means that I’ll have to go without until I find the heart and energy to make a second attempt.
With this in mind, father’s day shopping is being done early this year. We still have two weeks to go (well, we did when I first wrote this post) but I’m getting my act together now, before it’s too late.
This father’s day is a special one in our house because this is my husband’s first one ever. I’ll admit that I did get him a small gift last year since little Noah was already growing inside me and giving us the new identities of mother and father; but let’s face it, I was doing all of the work and Billy had no idea what fatherhood meant yet. This year we get to celebrate his first steps into fatherhood and I am so excited about it.
Now, Billy has already knows what most of his present is. The EAFA Euro soccer league starts this weekend and Billy is dying to watch it, so we’re getting a TV package for the time that it’s showing (we don’t have any TV connection currently because it is so expensive). This, however, doesn’t cut it for me. I love to put thought and time into my gifts. I like to surprise and make someone feel special. Satellite television just doesn’t have the finesse that I’m looking for.
This is why I went shopping today. This is why I showered before 2 pm, put on real clothes and make-up and made the long, frightening trip to the mall with my little boy.
The result? A perfectly awesome Father’s Day gift. Check it out:
I decided to stick with the sports theme and got some of his favourite snacks to watch the games with. We’ve got Nachos, Doritos, popcorn, M&Ms, some chocolates and of course, the South African game-watching essential: biltong (there’s already beer in the fridge so I didn’t bother with that).
I’m planning on adding a few sentimental touches later on. I have a photo of Noah waiting to be framed, and I’m tinkering with the idea of making a card using his handprints… but I’m not sure that it’ll be too easy to do. I mean, paint on a 5 month old’s hands? I struggle to see that going too well. Like shopping, I’m expecting to do a week of prep and a day’s worth of psyching myself up before trying that.
Today I am deliberating over how to proceed in a sticky situation. I am pondering over whether or not to make a move or stay in my safe corner.
I work in an unofficial counselling role at a Christian school. I have good relationships with most of the high school girls and spend the breaks from my part-time art teaching job listening to, encouraging and advising these young women. I love them all dearly and enjoy sowing into their lives. Today, I was simply poking my nose around an issue with one of the girls, trying to bring about resolution as I usually do, when a different issue came to the front. I was NOT prepared for this one. I did NOT want to deal with this. This one involves family. I was supposed to be doing something simple.
I’ve found myself in a similar situation before and was so filled with righteous indignation that I went around shooting my mouth off. I paid no heed to warnings from my husband. I threw tact and caution to the wind. I went in like a bull in a china shop and nearly destroyed my relationship with my best friend.
I’d like to say that I’ve grown since then. I want to tell you that I learnt my lesson then and now I know how to deal with things like this. The truth is, I did learn a lesson and I have grown, but I’m not so sure I trust myself yet. I’ve done so much study of Scriptures dealing with speech and grace, and I desperately want to be the one who is “quick to listen and slow to speak.” I want to build up, not tear down.
So here is my dilemma: Building up sometimes means dealing with problems that are bringing a person down. So surely then, it is important for us to speak in love so that Christ might be more glorified in a person’s life and ministry. But when do you speak? When is it right for you to step forward and confront the gossip that is breaking a person down? When do you just let things be? I don’t want to rush in prematurely or even without probable cause. I’ve done that before and I’m not doing it again. But it is also my responsibility, as a fellow sister in Christ, to help my brother grow by speaking into the darkness.
Oh, that God would give us wisdom to know when to speak and when to leave things in His hands. May we never be cowards, sweeping sin under the rug, but rather warriors in the war for our hearts. May we speak in love and in turn as we fight for the hearts of our brothers and sisters in Christ
Some time ago, I took the 16 personalities test. This is awesome! I loved how accurate the results were for me. Turns out, I am an INFP-T, also known as “The Mediator.” People like me seek peace and have good insight into ourselves and the feelings of others. That being said, I knew myself pretty well before taking the test, but it pointed out one thing about my personality that I had never really understood before. You see, while I am a peace-loving, co-operative and flexible person, I have found myself in a number of situations where there was something I could just not let go and it brought out a whole different side of me – a side that’s blunt, stubborn and sometimes tactless. It has ruined relationships and humbled me many a time. But here’s the deal – this is a key part of people with my personality type. Us mediators are sensitive to stress and when our usual patient, gracious ways aren’t producing the right results, we take the hard road and become harsh (and we feel very righteous about it). It seems to be our fatal flaw. Now, I am not at all using this as an excuse for my bad behaviour. Just because my personality type struggles in this arena does not mean that I am slave to it. Rather, I hope to see Jesus redeem this part of myself and use it for His glory.
Last week I gave you a list of five things that make my heart sing. This week, I’m moving in the opposite direction to give you a new list – five things that get on my nerves. Each of these five things hold great potential to bring out the hard side of my personality. These are the things I struggle to let go, the things that most annoy me, the things that I sometimes feel I have no choice but to deal with harshly.
I think this one gets to me the most because I highly value sincerity and authenticity in myself. I have no need to present myself any other way than as who I am – a broken sinner redeemed by the grace of God. I can’t stand it when someone stretches the truth for the benefit of themselves or tells lies for the downfall of another. Surely we can all respect ourselves and each other enough to be real and genuine?
If we are all human, all created in God’s image, then we all deserve respect. I’m not talking about awe and reverence here; just common decency. We all hate it when someone speaks to us in a condescending way, when we are unappreciated or when we are insulted behind our backs. It’s important that we all see the value of each other and speak and act in ways that we ourselves would find respectful. Who cares if he’s of a different race or gender, the president, a criminal, a child or homeless? Nothing we do undermines our value in God’s eyes, therefore who are we to treat each other in any other way than as people loved and treasured by the Almighty Creator?
This one brings out a different side of my hard nature. Instead of seeking confrontation like I do with dishonesty and disrespect, I move towards stubborn ignorance. You see, I’m an easy-going person. I don’t stress over the details; I look at the big picture. I give of my best within my personal limits, and expect grace where I am lacking. Therefore, when someone decides to leave the church because we served the wrong kind of tea, it bugs me. If someone suddenly goes cold towards me for an unknown reason, I shrug my shoulders. Where usually I would seek harmony, I don’t. I leave the ball in your court. The thing is, some things are simply not worth ruining relationships over. If you are unhappy with someone, it is your responsibility. You either forgive and move on, or deal with it (face to face). If I don’t know what I did to upset you, you better believe that I’m not going to spend all my time and energy agonising over it.
Every person is on their own journey. They have their own struggles, their own stories and their own experiences. As Christians, we are all on different levels in our relationships with God; different stages of sanctification and growth. Why, then, do we judge each other so quickly? Why do we feel the need to speak badly of someone’s choices when we do not fully know their reasoning? We all need grace. So much of it. And God is forever pouring it out onto us.
Please, don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe in making excuses for sin. We are sinners and we need Jesus’ help in overcoming sin in our lives. But if we are all sinners, then we are all going to mess up, and the last thing we will need is for others to rain judgment upon us. Yes, there is place for confrontation. Yes, there is need for help when we are blind to our own faults. But there is also a great need for love and grace and mercy.
This particularly gets to me in the realm of parenting. Mothers have become so judgemental of one another. You’re criticised for starting solids, you’re criticised for waiting. You’re criticised for having a C-section, you’re criticised for having a water birth. Here’s the truth – we are all trying to do the best we can for our own children! None of us knows the best way to parent. We all make mistakes. Let’s give each other grace to do what we see fit with our own children, and encourage each other rather than judge.
5. “Christians” (please note the inverted commas)
This last one really bugs me. I’m not talking about the bride of Christ here. No. I’m talking about those who say they love the Lord and speak of all the good things God is doing in their lives, yet go about their daily lives dragging His name through the mud. I’m talking about those who see no need to love the church, who cling to their sin that sent Jesus to the cross and are unwilling to commit to any kind of service. Yes, there is grace and patience and love for these people. But at some point you have to ask, are these sheep or goats?
Writing all of this out has convicted me. I can’t help but think of all the times I have done and been these very things. Oh, praise the Lord for his mercy and strength! Thank Him for His continuous work in our hearts and lives. May He continue to mould us more into the likeness of Jesus.
What to Expect when you’re Expecting. I skipped the book, but I watched the movie (several times) and loved it! You see, I’ve always been fascinated with pregnancy. I’m not sure if it’s a woman thing or just me, but I’ve spent so much of my time wondering about and admiring the pregnant woman. I was so excited when I saw the double lines on my own pregnancy test for the first time. I couldn’t wait to start feeling the little kicks, to watch my belly grow and wear those cute maternity outfits. I imagined myself to be like Skyler from the movie (I was all for having twins, too). I thought if I imagined pregnancy to be a positive experience, then I would definitely have one. Come 8 weeks, and pregnancy gave me a slap in the face. And just like that, all my ideas of pregnancy changed. I realised that I was Wendy – the one with all these grand expectations and fantasies only to watch them be shattered by reality. Okay, it’s not all bad. I’ll admit it. But seriously, there are some things you just need to be prepared for…
Here’s my top ten reasons why pregnancy sucks.
Okay, we all knew it was coming, right? I mean, most women expect the nausea. I, on the other hand, thought I’d apply the power of positive thinking. If I didn’t expect the nausea, I wouldn’t get it; if I got it anyway, then it wouldn’t be that bad. Oh, what a fool I was! Let me just put this out there: you do not have mind powers! No one does! You cannot think things away. If you’re going to get nauseous, it’s just going to happen and yes, it’ll probably suck.
At first, I was excited. My first actual pregnancy symptom! I went out and bought the gingerbeer and the sour worms, so ready to try the remedies I’d read all about. But the excitement wore off pretty quickly. When you can’t touch the sour worms and the gingerbeer makes you gag, things start to seem pretty dismal. I felt like I had motion sickness – ALL THE TIME (don’t believe that “morning” sickness nonsense). I was lucky enough to not have to make any dashes for the nearest toilet or rubbish bin, but I constantly felt like my insides were sloshing around. The worst of it was over by ten weeks (lucky me!) but I still had that tickly feeling at the back of throat until way into the second trimester. The only way I could deal with it was to give into my cravings for carbs and citrus. That seemed to take the edge off.
*By the way, five months after having my baby, I still haven’t touched gingerbeer.
2. Cravings and Aversions
It’s perhaps not the cravings themselves that are sucky, but more the emotional attachment that seems to come with them. It’s amazing how the store’s lack of the right flavour of chips can easily ruin your entire day. Then there’s also the problem that most of what you crave is NOT very nutritious, yet the thought of broccoli makes you want to hurl. My cravings started with the nausea and ended only after giving birth. They ranged from potatoes and orange juice to pizza dough and blueberry muffins. Just warn your partner in advance – if you cannot get whatever it is that you’re craving, your world will fall to pieces and you may just possibly drown in your own tears.
Aversions, like cravings, aren’t much fun either. These are what make dinner parties awkward – when you’re trying not to gag at the sight of chicken on your plate. My biggest aversion was hot drinks. The cup of (decaf) coffee that I looked forward to warming me up each morning became a source of nausea; along with those winter evening hot chocolates and milos. It made me so sad. Tea, however, was the worst. I would literally hold my nose as I walked past the teas in the grocery store because even the smell would make me gag. Oh, you can’t smell the tea through the boxes you say? Trust me, you can!
3. Tiny bladder
This one gave me some serious grief. Not only because getting up in the middle of the night to pee would inevitably make me hungry and unable to get back to sleep, but also because I really hate using other people’s toilets. Weird, I know. But I’d rather sit with a full bladder for an extra hour than take a squat in a public restroom. Pregnancy did not give me this luxury. I went from peeing about four times a day to about ten. One night I even had to get up five times! FIVE! The worst was when we took a trip to Kruger National Park with some friends from the States. Nevermind, the hours and hours we spent in the car, it was the accommodation that got me down. We stayed in bungalows, which meant communal bathrooms. So if I needed to pee in the middle of the night, which was inevitable, I had to get up, walk outside, half asleep, in the dark, in the middle of winter, and try to find my way to the nearest bathroom. Oh, and did I mention that all the weird bugs like to spend their nights in the bathrooms too?
4. Weight Gain
I don’t care who you are, but watching your body expand to the point where you can hardly recognise yourself is frightening! I scoff at belly-only pregnancies. My whole body was pregnant! My hips, my thighs, my bum, my arms, my face… EVERYTHING! People would tell me, “You’re so small” and “You’re looking so good.” I smiled and said thanks, but I knew they were lying. Okay, maybe they weren’t. I wasn’t that big, but I felt like I was, and that’s the thing about being pregnant. You feel huge. You feel it when you try to put on your favourite pair of jeans and when you try to take off your socks. You feel it when you somehow manage to eat twice your usual amount of food and every time that nasty doctor makes you stand on that wretched scale. Yes, you know you’re carrying another human being inside of you, but you can’t shake the fear that you will never be able to lose the baby weight. Take heart, my friend, because it won’t always be like this. But yes, right now, it sucks.
Growing and growing…
5. Water Retention
This was partly to blame for my 20 kilogram weight gain. From about twenty weeks I started to retain water. Only a little at first, but throughout my third trimester it just got worse and worse. I spent four months wearing the same pair of shoes (the only ones that fit) and without my wedding ring. I could feel the tightness in my legs and see the swelling in my face. It didn’t help that I was pregnant in one of Jo’burg’s hottest summers either. I tried everything… from drinking water and putting my feet up to tissue salts. Nothing worked! I would be terrified of my midwife’s scale because no matter how well I ate, the numbers just kept climbing. A few days after I gave birth, I weighed myself and was disappointed to see that I had only lost 5 kilos. But, I was still swollen and my wedding ring was still too tight. Two weeks later, my swelling was gone and I was amazed to see that I had lost another 7 kilos! That’s a LOT of water.
6. Not being able to do stuff for yourself
I like my independence. I like being in control of my own home. I don’t want to ask for help carrying the heavy laundry basket down the stairs or reaching for the flour at the top of the cupboard. I want to tie my own shoelaces and take off my socks by myself. Does this sound toddler-like? Nevertheless, this was hard for me. Especially when we had to move house when I was four months along. I wanted to pack my own boxes, clean my own house and unpack things where I wanted them, but I had to humble myself and accept the help. Take my advice – put away the pride and control, just for a little while, and take the help where it is offered. Let your partner carry the grocery bags and tie your shoes for you, because one day, you’ll be wishing you had that kind of help, with no excuse to ask for it.
7. Stuffy Nose
Increased blood flow throughout the pregnant woman’s body may result in swelling of the mucous glands. Basically, you end up producing a lot more snot (yes, I said snot… can you tell I’m a mother yet?) and may even experience some nose bleeds. This build-up caused me to sneeze – A LOT – and snore. Plus, I couldn’t go anywhere without having some tissues on hand, just in case. So basically, it’s nine months of having a bit of a stuffy nose.
8. Not being able to take medication
Okay, let’s be honest here. Panado is basically a bunch of smarties in a pill box. It doesn’t do much. If you’re one of the unluckies that gets to experience crazy headaches as a pregnancy symptom, my heart goes out to you. For me, this medication problem got to me when I got my usual round of flu in December time. Yes, I get sick EVERY December. Usually around Christmas time. But moving on… I found that some saline nasal sprays and vaporub helped with the whole breathing at night thing, but that was about the best that could be done. Other than that, all that all you can do is sleep and wait it out. Sorry.
9. Body Pains
It’s a gracious thing that our bodies change slowly to accommodate the babies that grow inside of us. It’s no small feat carrying around an extra person for nine (or ten) months straight. Naturally, as that baby grows, you start to feel it, especially in those last two months. That third trimester is not for sissies. Walking is hard! And yet the doctor will still have the nerve to tell you to do squats! My last month of pregnancy fell in December… which meant Christmas… which meant shopping – lots of it. I tried so hard not to waddle around the mall like a penguin, but it only increased the pain. My hips and back ached, my feet were bursting out of my shoes, my bladder was being used as a punching bag and don’t even get me started on the groin pain. Here’s the deal – the waddle is survival. Embrace the waddle. It will go. I promise.
10. The waiting game
If all of this wasn’t enough, you still have to spend the last few weeks of your pregnancy, not knowing when the torture will end. You go sleep each night hoping that you will be one of the many women who go into labour at night only to wake up the next morning feeling perfectly fine and still pregnant. And then there’s the added terror that any day now, you will experience the greatest physical pain known to man, and part of you just wants to get it over and done with. Some will tell you not to rush it – to relax and enjoy this last bit of time of having baby all to yourself. Your baby needs every last ounce of time he can get inside there. I agree. But I also say it’s okay to want your baby out. Your desire to end this torture and finally experience the joy that’s so great that it makes perfectly sane women get pregnant again is perfectly legitimate. Just trust in the Lord’s perfect timing – and eat ice cream.
Every pregnancy is different. These are only the worst that I experienced. There are plenty of other awful symptoms out there like acne and high blood pressure. What was the worst for you?