Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas

OK, so we're at that time of the year when it's time to think about what to give those special folks in our lives for Christmas. Over the next few posts we'd like to suggest some good picks for pressies. As you would expect, most of our suggestions will be books, but we're going to try and rack our brains to come up with some other ideas!

So to to get you thinking I'm going to pass on a few frugal ideas for presents. So, if you're a bit short of cash, or would like to get a bit more personal and creative, why not try out some of these random ideas:

1. Give a handmade gift certificate, you can make the certificate for almost anything:
  • 12 nights of babysitting throughout the year
  • a 3, 4 or even 5 course meal at your house
  • a car wash & valet
2. Bake some Christmas gifts - get out the ol' recipes for Christmas cookies and sweets and buy and fill a cookie or sweet tin.

3. Why not frame some of the children's artwork for the grandparents.

4. Take some favourite photos of your family and frame them for your relatives. Printing them in black and white and putting them in a black frame is particularly nice.

5. For that special someone - why not write a poem and frame it, reminding them of how much they mean to you.

6. For your kids - if you don't fancy filling your place with more plastic, why not make a kiddie cheque book of things they enjoy doing so they can cash them in during the year - a trip to the zoo, 5 trips to the softplay centre, lunch out at their favourite place, a couple of trips to the cinema, visit to the museum, trips to their favourite park, swimming....

7. A hubby cheque book - filling it with all the things you know he would enjoy.

8. A Wife cheque book (hint hint) - filling it with all the things you know she'd enjoy throughout the year - a haircut (& colour), a massage, a manicure/pedicure, a kid-free day of shopping, a day (OK, a morning) in Starbucks reading a good book, a Saturday morning lie in x12 (at least), an undisturbed hot bath x12 (at least) numerous nights off cooking, even more nights off bathing the kids....etc, etc

Do you have any more suggestions for frugal Christmas giving?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thoughts on Esther Pt 2

Reflecting on my reading of Iain Duguid's commentary on Esther, there have been four things that have made this commentary a first class companion with the Scriptures:

1. Duguid's illumination of the flaws in the characters of the story is used as a springboard for examining our own hearts before God.

2. The contrast he sets up between King Ahasuerus' kingdom and God's Kingdom shows us the laughableness (if that is such a word!) of our world against the greatness of God's Kingdom.

3. The way in which each chapter points us to Christ himself. Duguid is particularly skillful in focussing our attention on Christ and his Gospel.

4. Duguid rightly pinpoints throughout the book of Esther the sovereignty of God and his control over all things, particularly the small.

If these are four things that you think would make a worthwhile read and you're not sure what to get that special someone for Christmas, need I say more?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Carrot & Parsnip Soup

It's that time of the year in the Adams' household when all we want to eat for lunch is some nice hot soup and crusty bread! My kids love soup and it's a great way of getting loads of veggies into my two year old daughter (and husband), neither of whom are too good with vegetables.

One of the current favourites is a really simple carrot and parsnip soup, which I found here. I normally double the quantities below and freeze some and usually don't bother with the yoghurt or cumin - I add a teaspoon of medium curry powder instead.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large parsnips
  • 3 large carrots
  • 2 pints of vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin (optional)


  1. Chop the onion and sweat it, covered, in the olive oil for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the carrots and parsnips (cubed) and the stock, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Leave to cool for 15 minutes then blend in a food processor.
  4. Stir in the yoghurt and cumin.

Serve with fresh bread, and season with plenty of black pepper.

I'd be interested to hear from any of you about any good soup recipes you have - quick and easy preferred and I'm always open to the unusual!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Some Good Stuff

Since I've been offline for a week or so I've been doing some catching up in blogland. Here are a few good links and worthwhile reads...

And finally, I'm looking forward to listening to Noel Piper's talks from the Captial Hill Women's Conference:

Friday, November 09, 2007

November Giveaway!

This month's sponsor over at challies dot com is the Fellowship for the Performing Arts. The Fellowship produces audio resources, primarily based around the performances of Max McLean. Each of these sponsors enable these great giveaway prizes and all you need to do is enter into a prize draw by clicking on the image (and thus increase my chances too!) Here are the prizes:
  • First prize: The first prize winner will take home One copy of The ESV Listener's Bible on CD (as read by Max McLean) and one copy of Classics of the Christian Faith CD collection. The retail value of this prize is over $180.
  • Second prize: One copy of Classics of the Christian Faith CD collection.
  • Third Prize: One copy of Classics of the Christian Faith CD collection.
However, don't forget to express your gratitude to these sponsors by clicking through to their sites and looking around. All of them have something interesting to offer. By clicking to their sites you support them and you support these giveaways. Please take a moment to visit the sponsor's web site and to look at the products available there:

Thursday, November 08, 2007

You've Seriously Got to be Kiddin'!

Sadly, this is not as humorous as my last post. The Unashamed Workman mentioned to me last night the top 10 things people in Scotland look for in a pastor. It makes for somber reading. Here's the post from the Resolve blog:
A reason why the church in this country is at such a low ebb has come to my inbox today. At a seminar at a recent Christian gathering the 50 people in attendance were asked what their top ten priorities would be for a minister in a Scottish church. The final list is below, I'm not sure if they are ranked by importance, but looking at the list I'm not sure that it makes much of a difference.

1. Leadership skills
2. Developing Abilities
3. Recognising Abilities
4. Knowledge of denominational principles
5. Good communicator
6. People focused
7. Knowledge of church structure
8. Practical work experience
9. Management skills
10. Active participant in the community
As a couple of the comments reflected, there was no 'want' for a pastor who...
1. Loves Jesus
2. Knows the Gospel
3. Is mighty in the Scriptures
4. Is able to correctly handle the word of truth (2 tim 2:15) by valuing doctrine and fending off false teaching
5. Is passionate preacher of God's living and active Word in an expository way that lets God's Word do the talking and continue to change lives
6. Is a man of prayer
7. An example for the believers in speech, life, love, faith and purity
8. Knows an overwhelming desire to love and shepherd the flock God entrusts to him with great care and careful attention
9. Has the heart of Jesus for the world and a strong missional desire to reach out
10. Is clear and focussed in teaching, applying and leading a church within the biblical pattern of a local church
11. Is humble
As Mike Gilbart-Smith says, "here are ten reasons to go and pastor a church in Scotland" which "Gospel-focused pastors from the English speaking world should seriously consider."

You've Got to be Kiddin'!

I did check this a couple of times, just to make sure it didn't make a mistake! Somehow I'm not convinced!


Spotted at Rebecca Writes

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sesame & Lime Chicken

I've been trying out a few recipes recently and my husband and I believe we've discovered a real treat - sesame & lime chicken. We've tried it in a couple of different ways, serving it with rice, noodles and even a spicy couscous - and all have been scrummy. The recipe is also very low in fat, bonus!

2 chicken breasts, diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch of fresh root ginger, finely grated
4 tablespoons soy sauce
zest & juice of 2 limes
2 teaspoons sesame oil

1. Place the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, lime zest & juice and sesame oil in a bowl and add the chicken breasts. Toss the chicken in the marinade and leave for at least 30 minutes.
2. Remove the chicken from the marinade, place on skewers and grill for 4-5 mins. Alternatively, stir fry and serve with rice, noodles or couscous.
3. Heat the leftover marinade in a small pan until boiling and drizzle over the chicken before serving.
4. Enjoy!

Monday, November 05, 2007

The "Idol Factory"

I don't often post about my husband's sermons, I normally leave that for someone else to do. However, on Sunday morning Colin was preaching from Jeremiah 44 on our most stubborn sin - idolatry. He broke the sermon into 4 areas;

i) idolatry has a past history (v 1-6)
ii) idolatry is a present problem (v 7-14)
iii) idolatry is a cunning competitor (v 15-23), and
iv) idolatry has a deadly conclusion (v24-30).

It was a particularly challenging sermon as it questioned not only the idols with which we struggle in the present, but those idols that have lingered in our family history and have been passed down from one generation to the next. Therefore, the Adams' family this week have been thinking about what idols we might have inherited, perhaps unknowingly, and what we are doing about them. Has your preoccupation with money, possessions, or even your children (to give but a few examples) stemmed from your family heritage?

However, this also got me thinking, not so much in a negative way, but positively. For those of us who have been brought up in a loving Christian home, we have much to be thankful for the heritage we have. We should count our blessing and seek to continue this gospel lineage. We must continually ask ourselves, what is our greatest idol? Or, in the words of John Bloom we must weigh up our pleasures in life, for they are the measure of what we treasure. If Christ is really your greatest treasure, is the pleasure he brings on display to the members of your family?

In thinking practically about this, Colin posed the challenge: "how will you negotiate the "idol factory" that is Christmas this year?" Have you inherited helpful or unhelpful traditions over the years from your family? Which of them will you keep and which of those will you discard and replace? What will your family take most pleasure in this Christmas?

If you have a spare 40 minutes, why not listen more fully to his sermon here.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

John Ensor Interview

The Girltalkers have posted this week a 5 part interview with John Ensor, author of Doing Things Right In Matters of the Heart. The posts have been excellent giving much food for thought in the area of biblical manhood & womanhood. So if you want to know what it means for a single woman to be a leaf rustler and twig snapper, read on!

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5