Posts

Why I'm a Mormon* - despite everything

Image
In August this year I had the great privilege of teaching at FSY (For the Strength of Youth), the LDS Church's youth convention. I taught two classes, one of which included my conversion story. In this same lesson I asked a question (I can't remember what) and one girl responded immediately and boldly, "Well, I know the Church* is perfect".

There was an instant frisson and hum as the other students responded to the controversial statement. Like the experienced teacher I'm not, I resisted the urge to take up this subject, and cut off the chatter by clarifying, "The gospel is perfect. The Church and the gospel are not the same thing."

I often think of that girl, and wonder how she felt about my clarification. The words Church and gospel can often seem to be used interchangeably in Mormon circles, and if she truly does believe that the Church is perfect, then that poor girl has a rough road ahead, because it demonstrably isn't. Every time it is late pa…

Some Christmas Gift Ideas

Image
While I don't hold myself out to be any sort of expert in gift buying (I once bought my sister a packet of Pez for Christmas) I thought it might be helpful at this time of year to share a few ideas of gifts which have been well received.

Studio do a personalised bathrobe, for men, women and children, at just £7.99. It's not terrible quality for the price too. Last year almost everyone in our family ended up with one, and mine is still going strong.

Got a chocoholic friend  who's always on a diet? My "joke" gift this year is a hamper of chocolate-not-chocolate. It includes chocolate scented shower gel, lip balm, moisturiser, and a face mask, plus a small jigsaw puzzle of chocolate, a chocolate scented candle, and anything else I find between now and Christmas that's chocolate but not edible. (And because I'm not that cruel, the follow-up gift will be her favourite actual chocolate.)

If you've a whole family to buy for take out the hassle of figuring out…

What to take to Center Parcs

Image
I'm at Center Parcs in Elveden Forest as I write this, celebrating my daughter's 18th birthday. It's lovely - beautiful, peaceful, full of wildlife (I've seen a stoat, muntjac deer, a heron, rabbit, squirrels, moorhens, ducks, a jay, and various other birds) and comfortable and relaxing.

In this post I'm using my blog as a reminder to myself for next time, but also as a public service to anyone else heading to Center Parcs. Essentially it's a list of things they don't tell you to bring, but which you really need to bring. They supply the smallest quantities of the basic essentials, but not enough because they want to you to stock up at the extremely expensive ParcMarket.

Washing-up liquid. They give you ONE small sachet. They also give you three dishwasher tablets, but since our lodge only has six place settings' worth of crockery and cutlery we didn't use the dishwasher as we needed the plates.A tea towel or two. They supply one, but that gets wet …

My First Six Months as a Vegetarian

Image
I became a vegetarian on 23rd May 2018, a spur-of-the-moment decision prompted by a lobster. It's been interesting, and I have to say that I don't miss meat, and I wouldn't ever go back to eating it. There are many things I thought I'd miss, but don't - McDonald's burgers, roast dinners, bacon.

Having said that, there are a couple of things I'm a little wistful about:
Anchovies. I loved anchovies on my pizza or stuffed into olivesChinese food. Almost nothing available in a Chinese restaurant or takeaway is vegetarian. Prawn crackers have prawns in them (who knew?) and even seaweed has powdered fish sprinkled over the top. I really miss sweet and sour chicken balls, chicken with chilli and salt, and crispy shredded beef. I wish they would do these recipes with beancurd (which is, after all, a Chinese staple) so that I could enjoy them again, but I've yet to find a restaurant locally which does. (One of them explained why: apparently fresh beancurd has a …

My Ten-Day Social Media Fast

Image
At the recent October General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Nelson, our church leader, challenged the sisters (because he was speaking in the women's session) to fast from social media for ten days. Here's what he said:


"I invite you to participate in a 10-day fast from social media and from any other media that bring negative and impure thoughts to your mind. Pray to know which influences to remove during your fast. The effect of your 10-day fast may surprise you. What do you notice after taking a break from perspectives of the world that have been wounding your spirit? Is there a change in where you now want to spend your time and energy? Have any of your priorities shifted—even just a little? I urge you to record and follow through with each impression."

Now, I didn't see this conference session, and although I began my social media fast on 8th October, I did so because other women reported to me (on social media, ironi…

Why I became Vegetarian (and what I've leaned since)

Image
The Lobster Incident occurred on 23rd May 2018.

I had decided that it was high time my husband and I ate the lobster that had been in our freezer for... well, a while. Since it was for two of us and there's not much meat on a lobster I also got out a couple of salmon fillets.

I'd never prepared lobster before, so I was  a little shocked when I tipped the lobster out of its cardboard box because it looked like a lobster. Yes, I wonder what I expected, but there it was, red and dead, an entire animal, looking at me.

I read the instructions on the box. "Twist off the claws. Insert a knife into the back of the head and twist until the shell cracks..." I recoiled in horror. I couldn't do that to this animal.

Some context here. A few years ago I squirted wasp killer at a wasp which was terrorising my dining room. I watched as the innocent creature fell onto the window sill, writhing and twitching horribly, and slowly curled up in a ball of pain and died. I sobbed, horr…

Book Review: Road to Covered Bridge

Image
Okay, I'll say it - this writer is a better writer than me. I'm honoured to share a publisher with her. Her writing style is the kind that wins high-brow awards for literature.

This book reminded me very much of “To Kill a Mockingbird”, not just because it’s written from the point of view of a spirited child, but because of the lyrical, meandering prose which really was beautiful, evocative and authentic. The book leaves a lot of questions unanswered, and you get the feeling that the answers are just out of the reach of our narrator, but the characters are fully rounded and intriguing.

It’s masterfully written and feels very much like "real life" in that it's not nicely packaged with trite answers, clear endings, and sensible conversations - in fact, I loved the parts where the family were all talking at once, often about different subjects, and in a very disjointed way, because that is what family life with children is really like.

Although this isn’t an era or a…