Saturday, December 26, 2009

worth a watch

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Friday, December 25, 2009

A guide to Christian worship for novice churchgoers

Excellent article here about church going at Christmas for those who don't normally go (12 million considering it compared with 3 million that go regularly)
I did wonder today how many extra people were there who don't normally come.
I also thought it was a great sermon on John 1 v1.
I wonder what the non-regular people thought?

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

24th December- All I want for Christmas is you!

Merry Christmas everyone!

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

23rd December- Homeless at Christmas

The chief executive of charity Crisis said today:
"In a country of 242,000 millionaires, nothing highlights the stark contrast more than the homeless people we will welcome to our centres this Christmas. This recession has hit the poorest hardest and the British public is not prepared for them to bear the brunt of any public spending cuts."

Thank you Lord for the wealth we have been born into
And the homes that give us warmth and shelter
Thank you that are not an aloof God
That you were born into a homeless situation
You know our pain, our struggle.
Please Lord open doors of shelter to those who are cold and without a place to go tonight.
Bless charities such as Crisis, YMCA and Salvation Army who do so much good work with the homeless
Please bring reconciliation, healing and peace this Christmas.
In Jesus. name,

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

22nd December- Robin

From one Robin to another :)

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Modern day Robin Hood

Or maybe just a controversial priest. Either way, I like his style. Read the story here The fact that he protested about the Playboy brand being marketed at children was very canny too. Be interested to know more about him...


Monday, December 21, 2009

21st December- My favourite day of the year!

It's the shortest day of the year meaning the least amount of light but it also heralds the very slow death of winter for me. Ironic because I look out of the window and see all the snow and ice but I know inside that tomorrow will be about a minute and a half lighter and the next day and the next. It will soon be spring! Yippee!

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

20th December- What's in a name?

Winterval- an amalgam of 'winter' and 'festival', keeps people of all faiths happy, apparently.
Midwinter Celebration- see above
Xmas- a contraction of Christmas is just a sloppy shortening of the word (and no justification for actually saying 'xmas')
It would appear that people like the trappings of the season but not the name. It's my faith's festival- I think I'll just call it Christmas.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

19th December- Real or artificial tree?

I like the smell and I like the thought but I don't like the needles everywhere for the next 6 months. Also, there's no denying that the 'green' credentials of a fake tree are sparse but what are the credentials of having a lot of poor soil inducing trees grown and then harvested year upon year? We've had our fake tree for 21 years. It's served us well. I think when we retire it, I may opt for a non-traditional twig/branch type item to hang things on. But it's a tough old thing and will outlast us all. (It hasn't ever been and probably won't ever be as well coordinated as the tree in the picture though!)

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Friday, December 18, 2009

18th December- Christmas Cards

I'm wondering whether it's just an age of more environmentally friendly people or whether I know fewer people who give out Christmas cards. Whichever it is I'm pleased! Although maybe I'm just a little bit paranoid too! :)

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

17th December- Christmas number ones

1969 Rolf Harris "Two Little Boys"
1970 Dave Edmunds "I Hear You Knocking"
1971 Benny Hill "Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)"
1972 Little Jimmy Osmond "Long Haired Lover From Liverpool"
1973 Slade "Merry Xmas Everybody"
1974 Mud "Lonely This Christmas"
1975 Queen "Bohemian Rhapsody"
1976 Johnny Mathis "When A Child Is Born (Soleado)"
1977 Wings "Mull of Kintyre" / "Girls' School"
1978 Boney M "Mary's Boy Child" / "Oh My Lord"
1979 Pink Floyd "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)"
1980 St Winifred's School Choir "There's No-one Quite Like Grandma"
1981 The Human League "Don't You Want Me"
1982 Renée and Renato "Save Your Love"
1983 The Flying Pickets "Only You"
1984 Band Aid "Do They Know It's Christmas?"
1985 Shakin' Stevens "Merry Christmas Everyone"
1986 Jackie Wilson "Reet Petite"
1987 Pet Shop Boys "Always on My Mind"
1988 Cliff Richard "Mistletoe and Wine"
1989 Band Aid II "Do They Know It's Christmas?"
1990 Cliff Richard "Saviour's Day"
1991 Queen "Bohemian Rhapsody" / "These Are the Days of Our Lives"
1992 Whitney Houston "I Will Always Love You"
1993 Mr Blobby "Mr Blobby"
1994 East 17 "Stay Another Day"
1995 Michael Jackson "Earth Song"
1996 Spice Girls "2 Become 1"
1997 Spice Girls "Too Much"
1998 Spice Girls "Goodbye"
1999 Westlife "I Have A Dream" / "Seasons in the Sun"
2000 Bob The Builder "Can We Fix It?"
2001 Robbie Williams & Nicole Kidman "Somethin' Stupid"
2002 Girls Aloud "Sound of the Underground"
2003 Michael Andrews & Gary Jules "Mad World"
2004 Band Aid 20 "Do They Know It's Christmas?"
2005 Shayne Ward "That's My Goal"
2006 Leona Lewis "A Moment Like This"
2007 Leon Jackson "When You Believe"
2008 Alexandra Burke "Hallelujah"

This is the list of Christmas number one's during my lifetime. CNO's are an important landmark in the music industry as it represents huge sales- very prestigious as well as lucrative. For the last few years it's been an instant hit for whoever has just won a TV talent contest. Cynically some people think that the whole show is just an extended advert for a puppet artist and some extremely rich execs to become even richer.
For 2009, a Facebook group was set up to promote Rage Against the Machine to get to number one instead. I don't much rate the song but it is a huge antidote to the sugary tat that we're normally offered and is offering genuine competition to hapless but probably lovely Joe McElderry. However I still feel completely manipulated. Maybe this whole thing just proves the complete irrelevance of the pop music chart as it stands at the moment.
Meanwhile the picture might give you an idea which is my favourite CNO.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

16th December- Cracker Jokes

Q. What does an auctioneer excel in?
A. Lots.

Q. What do you call a deer with no eyes?
A. No idea.

Q. Why was the ghost sad before the disco?
A. Because he had no body to go with.

Q. What disease can you catch from putting up too many decorations?
A. Tinsilitis.

Q. Why is 6 afraid of 7?
A. Because 7 ate 9.

An invisible man marries an invisible woman.
Their kids were nothing to look at either.

BBC news site Top Ten sent in cracker jokes of which number 10 and 4 are my favourites :)

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

15th December- Christmas biscuits


200g self-raising flour
100g butter, in cubes
100g light, soft brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
1 egg, lightly beaten
12 clear boiled sweets

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Pulse the flour and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and spices, then pulse again.
Tip into a bowl and add the egg, stirring until a dough comes together. Knead gently till smooth. Tip onto a lightly floured work surface and roll to the thickness of a £1 coin – about 3–4mm. Cut into stars with a cutter. Lift the stars carefully with a palette knife and place, spacing them evenly, on baking sheets lined with baking parchment. (To create a glassy centre in the biscuits, cut out a shape in the centre of half of the stars and fill with a clear boiled sweet.) Make a hole in the top of each biscuit with a chopstick.
Bake for 10–12 minutes till golden. Push the chopstick back into each of the holes while the biscuits are still soft. Leave to cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack. When cool, you can decorate the biscuits with a simple icing made from icing sugar and water; add balls or colour, and thread with ribbon to hang on the tree.

Looking forward to Secret Santa time tomorrow! :)

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Monday, December 14, 2009

14th December- Ice Hotel

For very many years I have set my sights on going to the Ice Hotel in Sweden (after an internet search I discovered that although the Swedish hotel was the original one and is celebrating it's 20th anniversary this season, there are now similar hotels in Canada and Norway.) The whole structure is made of ice including the bed and furniture, with a 'balmy' temperature of -5 degrees! (the outdoor temperature can reach -70) It really looks incredibly beautiful and would be a magical experience. It obviously comes at a cost and I will have to save around £1000 per person before I can start thinking about going. Maybe next year!

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

13th December- Christmas decorations

You may have gathered I'm Mrs Bah Humbug when it comes to Christmas and I usually have strict guidelines about when it's OK to do things regarding Christmas. For example, Christmas can be thought about, planned for and mentioned from 1st December only. I usually like to delay getting the tree and decorating to the weekend before Christmas day. It makes it more Christmassy that way! I think I may well get the Christmas things out of the loft today so maybe I'm changing- who knows!

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

12th December- Secret Santa

At work we have a mini Secret Santa going on and I need to have mine by Wednesday next week. Trouble is we have a price maximum of 2.50. I thought I should maybe make some edible tree decorations. Certainly I think something edible would be appreciated by the person involved I think. I might have to have a trial run today. Practice makes perfect. :)

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Friday, December 11, 2009

11th December- Advent Calendars

When I was a child I always had an advent calendar but we didn't have chocolate ones. In some ways I'm a purist and think that the whole point of advent is getting yourself ready for Christmas so just longing for the next chocolate isn't what it's about! Although I haven't got one this year, I now buy advent candles which I like although hard for us to find a visible safe surface to leave it burning!
This year my advent prep is all down to this blog. :D

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

10th December- What would Jesus buy?

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

9th December- Magi

In Persia is the city called Saveh, from which the three Magi set out when they came to worship Jesus Christ. Here, too, they lie buried in three sepulchres of great size and beauty. Above each sepulchre is a square building with a domed roof of very fine workmanship. The one is just beside the other. Their bodies are still whole, and they have hair and beards. One was named Beltasar, the second Gaspar, and the third Melchior.

Marco asked several of the inhabitants who these Magi were; but no one could tell him anything except that they were three kings who were buried there in days gone by.

Three days farther on, he found a town called Kala Atashparastan, that is to say Town of the Fire-worshippers. The inhabitants declared that in days gone by three kings of this country went to worship a new-born prophet and took with them three offerings -gold, frankincense, and myrrh - so as to discover whether this prophet was a god, or an earthly king or a healer. For they said : 'If he takes gold, he is an earthly king; if frankincense, a god; if myrrh, a healer.'

When they had come to the place where the prophet was born, the youngest of the three kings went in all alone to see the child. He found that he was like himself, for he seemed to be of his own age and appearance. And he came out, full of wonder. Then in went the second, who was a man of middle age. And to him also the child seemed, as it had seemed to the other, to be of his own age and appearance. And he came out quite dumbfounded. Then in went the third, who was of riper years; and to him also it happened as it had to the other two. And he came out deep in thought. When the three kings were all together, each told the others what he had seen. And they were much amazed and resolved that they would all go in together.

So, in they went, all three together, and came before the child and saw him in his real likeness and of his real age; for he was only thirteen days old. Then they worshipped him and offered him the gold, the frankincense, and the myrrh. The child took all three offerings and then gave them a closed casket. And the three kings set out to return to their own country.

After they had ridden for some days, they resolved to see what the child had given them. They opened the casket and found inside it a stone. They wondered greatly what this could be. The child had given it to them to signify that they should be firm as stone in the faith that they had adopted. For, when the three kings saw that the child had taken all three offerings, they concluded that he was at once a god, and an earthly king, and a healer. And, since the child knew that the three kings believed this, he gave them the stone to signify that they should be firm and constant in their belief.

The three kings, not knowing why the stone had been given to them, took it and threw it into a well. No sooner had it fallen in than there descended from heaven a burning fire, which came straight to the well into which it had been thrown. When the three kings saw this miracle, they were taken aback and repented of their throwing away the stone; for they saw clearly that its significance was great and good. They immediately took some of this fire and carried it to their country and put it in one of their churches, a very fine and splendid building.

They keep it perpetually burning and worship it as a god. And every sacrifice and burnt offering which they make is roasted with this fire. If it ever happens that the fire goes out, they go round to others who hold the same faith and worship fire also and are given some of the fire that burns in their church. This they bring back to rekindle their own fire. They never rekindle it except with this fire of which I have spoken. To procure this fire, they often make a journey of ten days.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

8th December- Fuss Free Christmas

Fuss Free Christmas and also Buy Nothing Christmas (which I have previously blogged on) are schemes to stem the consumerist tide that sweeps our Western nations at this time of year. Under the mis-guided and media endorsed assumption that to have a happy Christmas one needs many expensive presents, Christmas cards and decorations and a table, fridge and pantry groaning with more food than you could ever possibly need.
I suggested that this year we try 'Hand Made Christmas' but this wasn't a popular idea with several members of the family. But even though I won't make all of my presents, there will still be quite a lot of home produced things.
Apparently a 15 year old friend of Poppy's is getting Christmas presents totalling the value of £250. I don't know what that will be. Poppy quite rightly concluded that she won't be getting any where near that. She said 'It'll be nearer £60.' I didn't seek to further correct her.
We as a family really want for nothing. On Christmas day we'll have bits and pieces in stockings, nice food, church, family and festive TV. WHat else could we wish for? :D

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Monday, December 07, 2009

7th December- A White Christmas

The UN summit on climate change is opening today in Copenhagen with 15,000 delegates representing 192 countries. We will all be watching and waiting to see if they can come up with anything revolutionary to stem the increasing global temperatures. In the meantime, it becomes less and less likely that we will have a Christmas that looks anything like the picture above. And though it's great to point the finger at industry and heavy energy consumers, the best way to make an impact is through small, individual changes. Just a thought but the number one way to make an impact on global warming as an individual is by not having children. The second biggest impact is by not eating meat. For those that would find that impossible you could always try Meat Free Mondays as a step in the right direction.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

6th December- Chocolate Assortment Box

One tradition at Christmas is to have a large tin of chocolates with an assortment of centres to hand. Roses, Quality Street, Heroes, Celebration- what's your choice? These brands aren't Fairtrade yet and if you want a cheap and cheerful assortment of chocs, you're not going to be able to find them. Yet. With the news this year that Cadbury's Dairy Milk was Fairtrade from Summer 09, it shouldn't take too long before the whole brand converts. Maybe in the meantime I'll buy a big slab of Dairy Milk and wrap each chunk in foil and put them in a sweet tin we already have. We won't have a variety of centres but it might feel a bit more festive.

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

5th December- Family news letter

One Christmas tradition is writing a long and extensive newsletter to update friends and family on what has happened over the course of the year. I've never written one more likely due to lack of time than anything else. Some people find them boastful and tedious. If you were really a friend, surely they would have drip fed the information to you over the course of the year. For some it's a handy way to keep in touch even through the busy times. I don't know where I stand about it. I do know however that letter writing is an art that's dying out. Maybe we should be prepared to write letters and give information in this 'old fashioned' way. It's great to keep in touch- meaningfully.

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Friday, December 04, 2009

4th December- Scroogenomics

A book called Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays sounds like my sound of book, with my take on Christmas. I don't think I'm a spoil sport but I hate the tat that surrounds Christmas and can't help thinking how wasteful it is. Although I am buying stocking type presents, I'm planning to make the majority of other presents. Well that's the plan anyway!

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

3rd December- Spending time with friends

As usual, I have certain days that are crazy with everything happening at once. Yesterday was one of those days. I caught up with friends from my UEA writing course in the late afternoon and then went for a meal to Pulse with friends from the Youth Service.
I like Christmas from the point of view that it means everyone makes an effort to make contact and get together. I just wonder why it's so difficult at any other time of year?

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

2nd December- Peace on Earth

Father, you are creator and sustainer of our world, mighty and Lord of all. We ask that you will bring peace in our time. As a Christmas present to those who grieve, to those sending off a child to conflict and those who tremble and quake at night, Lord bring your total and effective peace.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

1st December- Stollen

Many years ago I decided to make a fruited, yeasty Christmas bread called stollen. Probably because it features a strip of marzipan in the centre- how I love marzipan! It was a great success! I think it makes a lighter, nicer version of Christmas Cake.
Anyway I have decided to make it this year and extra to give away as presents. The versions in the shops are not pleasant so I would recommend making your own. Will post a link to a reasonable recipe later.

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