Just wanted to jot down a couple of really good ideas for child friendly worship/prayer activities I’ve come across in the past few days.
The first was courtesy of Nick and Becky Drake at Spring Harvest this year (which was in Harrogate – amazing! Also come back in 2019, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.)
You have 3 large boards/blackboards set up at the front, one that says “School/Work”, one says “Home”, and one says “Relationships”.
You then have 8 sets of sheets of large stickers, each set of sheets printed with a fruit of the Spirit:
- gentleness, and
The prayer activity is then to identify which fruit and area of life you would like to ask God to help you with – so it might be for joy at school, or love at home, or patience in relationships – you get the idea.
Each person then comes up to front, gets a sticker with their particular fruit on, and sticks it onto the relevant blackboard.
At the end you end up with the boards covered in stickers (you obviously need to choose boards that are an approppriate size for the number of people) – which we all hold up in prayer to God. It’s good for adults to join in with too.
Most of my new posts are going on what is turning out to be my main blog.
So, here are some pictures of a Danger Mouse cake.
I seem to be in a bit of a macro phase at the moment – my 100mm macro lens is a permanent fixture on my camera!
I love how you can draw out both intricacy and abstraction by getting that close in, especially with flowers and plants (as you may have noticed).
Head on over to the 365 to see what I mean.
In honour of my pending ordination (tomorrow!!) I have set up a new blog, which will (hopefully) be a bit deeper than my ramblings on here.
It’s at revjameshandley.wordpress.com
I intend to keep this site going with photos, reviews, random thoughts (not that there has been a lot of that recently – doing a theology degree will have that effect!), but my main blogging will now be on t’other site.
This isn’t a sacred/secular divide thing, it’s more like the difference between the editorial and the cartoons in the newspaper. I will leave you to decide which one you think is which!!
One day I may post something that doesn’t involve food… Until that day..
With all due recognition of CressidaBell.com cakes for inspiration (but I’m afraid I don’t run to two hundred pounds for a birthday cake, even for my wife!)
Very quick one to share my two latest creations – a Death Star cake, and a Pokeball cake (the latter thanks to How to cake it – although it was my idea to fill it with Haribo)
Well – it’s all real now.
I am going to be ordained Deacon at Bradford Cathedral on Saturday 1st July 2017, to take up my curacy at St Mark’s Harrogate one day a week (plus Sundays).
While the journey is by no means ending on the 1st July, it is a significant milestone, and many would hold that I will be something different after the Bishop has laid hands on me (the posh phrase is an “ontological change”) – and again when I am priested in 2018, God willing.
I personally find it unhelpful to set clergy too far apart from non-ordained people, after all I will remain a member of laity, like all other baptised believers. On the other hand, there is a sense of being set apart, and that something does change on ordination – if it didn’t then why would we bother? I have never (yet?) come up with a satisfactory answer of “why” I should be ordained, but I’ve come to think that it’s not actually the important question. The important question is whether or not God is calling me (or you) to this slightly odd role/ministry/state of being, and I have to say that I feel, along with those who know me best and the wider church, the answer is “yes” for me.
Of course, the truth is we are all changing all the time. I am firmly of the opinion that Jesus calls ALL of us to a life of discipleship – which means always learning, growing, striving to more like Him. This isn’t to say that anything we do can make us any more loved (or less loved) by God, but if we are loved by God, and love Him in return, then we live our lives on a different page from the world around us, and that doesn’t always (often!) come naturally or easily.
I have found the last 3 years (ish) of theological education very hard work, but there is no doubt in my mind that I now look at the world in a different way. I think differently about the Bible and God, about Mission, about Jesus and His ministry. My understanding of Church has developed and deepened, and my outlook on life is perhaps more nuanced then it used to be. Fundamentally my faith hasn’t changed, but I have been stretched and deepened, often in uncomfortable ways!! I’m looking forward to sharing some of this with my new congregation, and learning from them in turn. I’m excited about what lies ahead for us as a family. And my hope and prayer is that God will continue to guide us all in his mysterious, but good, ways.
It is now just over 3 years since my 365 project turned into more of a “100” project, and I’ve been looking back over some of the photos I’ve taken, and reflecting on the fact that I actually really miss doing it.
If you needed any further persuasion as to why it’s a good undertaking, this is what I got out of doing it, and what I miss about not doing it.
1) It made me look at the world.
And I mean really look. Since stopping taking a photograph everyday, I’ve drifted back into a sort of haze again as I walk around, with my mind on other things (currently intractable French philosophers!!) While I was 365ing I was attentive to everything going on around me, in case a flower, or a person, or a stone, or a cloud presented itself for that day. I suppose it’s a bit like mindfulness, being fully present. I’d go so far as to say it made me appreciate creation, and hence become more aware of God all around us, all the time. It made me “wonderous”, if you’ll forgive the grammer.
2) It challenged my creativity.
One of the things that surprised me is that the 365 wasn’t actually that hard, in terms of finding subjects. There was no day when I didn’t have a photo for that day – except for the once or twice when I’d had such a busy day that I’d plain forgotten. That said, because I’d decided early on that taking the “same” pohoto twice was just boring, I did sometimes have to be quite creative and inventive, and the 365 encouraged this. It made me a bit more intentional about photography projects as well, like the water drop (did I mention that I won a prize for that? Oh, I did already – ok). It also pushed me to try about projects from photo magazines, and recreate others’ shots that I really liked – not to mention Danbo!!.
3) It meant I always had my camera with me.
In the age of smart phones this is perhaps a lesser consideration, but sometimes there is a one-off moment in time begging to be captured. Like if a butterfly flies into the office. Having your camera ready and primed at least promotes the possibility of the moment being captured. For me personally there is a quality and composition element to this – I love my smartphone, and the camera’s pretty good (and I use some pictures from it sometimes for my not-365), but it’s not the same as my real camera.
4) It provides an life record.
This one actually surprised me a little, and it’s only in looking back over the last five-and-a-half years’ of photos that I’ve realised that all of life’s ups and downs are recorded there. Whether that’s mundane or life-changing. The ripening of the blackberries in the garden and harvesting of photos are alongside my Mum passing away and me starting ordination training. In retrospect this is obvious I guess – after all you’d expect to take a photo of what is distinctive or foremost in your mind for that day. But it still hadn’t really struck me until I was looking back over the whole set a few weeks ago.
5) You really get to know your camera.
There is no substitute for experience and practice, and by the end of my first 365 I knew my old camera inside out and upside down. I knew how it responded to different lighting conditions, what the tricks were for focussing. I knew what different f-stops looked like, and what shutter speeds were in danger of blur. I knew how far I could push the ISO, and which lens were good for different things. In fact, it’s now not unusual for me to operate the camera in ‘M’ mode, particular if I’m using flash. Now obviously the above applies to a (D)SLR camera in particular – but even cameras on smartphones have their quirks, and I’m often still frustrated with the result of a photo on my phone, without understanding why it’s come out that way. It was just the same with my DSLR at first – a 365 soon fixes this!!
6) My photography got better.
This is, of course, entirely subjective. But I look back over some of my photos, and think “Wow – that’s actually a really good photo” (even occasionally prize winning. Did I mention that?) Now I wouldn’t dream of saying that every photo I took in 2015 is better than any I took in 2012, and I certainly don’t think that every photo I take is “good”, by any objective standard. But what has changed is the number of photos “behind” each one. So when I started, I would take dozens, if not hundreds, of photos to get one I was happy with. Now I take maybe 3 or 4 – I still sometimes need a couple to get happy with the exposure, and then a couple of different composition options. And actually, even though I do take 3 or 4, it’s often the first one which I end up choosing as being the best.
7) It was a communal activity.
When I was doing it for “real”, on 365project.org, one of the highlights was the community element. It’s amazing to join in this activity with others’ doing the same time. They give you ideas and encouragement, and you likewise encourage them back. I came very close to making some good friends on that site, as we walked together for the year, and if I was a more gregarious person (and had they not been in the states!) I would have loved to have met them in real life.
In the interest of balance, there were three downsides I can think of.
1) It does take time
In fact, the reason I stopped is because of the time that was needed. It’s not actually the photo-taking time which is the problem, it’s the post-processing. Downloading them off the camera, doing post-processing and watermarking (both of which I’ve now given up on, in the meain), then uploading, tagging, and describing them.
2) People get annoyed with you always taking photos
Especially close family!
3) It can get expensive
It doesn’t have to be expensive by any means, but it so tempting to buy some more equipment to enable you get a shot you’ve seen someone else do, or a danbo, or whatever. Some shots are simply not possible without a tripod, or a flash gun. Some shots are not possible without a fast lens, or a macro lens (or at least extension tubes). This also can end up with a large collection of photography equipment which has to live somewhere. My rationale is that it’s all money well spent – for instance a lens should really last you for a lifteime, unless you choose to upgrade.
Since the 9th May 2011, I have posted 1,305 photos, each attributed to a given day. At the time of writing, 2,034 days have passed since then, which gives me a rate of just over 66%, or in order words I have posted a photo in 2 out of every 3 days for the last 5 years.
Imperial Shuttle Chocolate Cake
- 20cm square baking tin, greased and lined on the bottom
- Modelling clay
- Cake board, black fondant icing, silver shimmer powder
Chocolate Sponge Cake:
- 350g softened butter
- 350g caster sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 350g self-raising flour
- 2 tbsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp cocoa power (optional)
Milk Chocolate Ganache (filling and crumb coat):
- 150ml double cream
- 150g good quality chocolate (dark or milk as desired)
White Chocolate Ganache (detailing):
- 100ml double cream
- 100g good quality white chocolate
Chocolate Mirror Glaze:
- 150ml double cream
- 135g caster sugar
- 55g cocoa powder
- 3 gelatine leaves
Tempered Chocolate Wings:
- 500g good quality chocolate
First of all, make the sponge cake.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 ° (160° fan).
- Beat the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until smooth.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well combined, adding a little flour with the eggs.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder, and fold into the batter.
- Spoon into the prepared tin, and level.
- Bake for 45-60 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack, removing the lining paper, then
turn again onto another (so it’s the right way up again), and leave to cool completely.
When completely cooled, the cake can be carefully cut into the elements of the shuttle, as follows.
- Cut the cake in half vertically, to be end up with two 20x10cm blocks (A and B).
- Cut A half in half vertically again, to end up with two 10cmx10cm blocks (A1, A2).
- Cut A1 of these quarters diagonally from back/top to front/bottom, to create the front part (pilot’s cabin).
- A2, and the rest of A1 are spare (yum!)
- Cut B in half horizontally, to end up with two half-height 20x10cm blocks (B1 and B2)
- B1 forms the lower main body of the shuttle.
- Cut B2 in half vertically, to end up with two half-height 10cm x 10cm blocks (B2i and B2ii)
- B2i forms the upper main body of the shuttle.
- Cut B2ii in about half again vertically, then cut off the front part of it diagonally to make the top of the shuttle, which holds the top fin.
At this point I froze these 4 elements, because it was going to be a few days before the next stage.
Step 2 is to assemble the shuttle, and crumb coat with chocolate ganache.
- Put the dark/milk chocolate and double cream into a pan.
- Heat gently until the chocolate melts, stirring all the while.
- Remove from the heat, and pour into a bowl.
- Whisk until thick and glossy – this is the ganache.
- Put the lower main body on a wire rack on a plastic tray (to catch the excess ganache)
- Pour over ganache to coat the top and front (long edge)
- Put the upper main body on the lower body, and again pour over the ganache to cover the top and front.
- Press the pilot’s cabin against the ganache covered front of the shuttle so it sticks.
- Put the top of the shuttle on top of upper main body.
- Cover the entire shuttle with ganache, ensuring the tops, sides, and back are all completely covered. You can scrape up the excess from the
tray to cover any awkward parts if you run out.
- Put in the fridge to set.
I saved the excess ganache, and popped it in a piping bag. After a couple of hours, I then piped this to fill up the gap which had opened up between the upper shuttle body and the cabin, and also to pipe two parallel lines of ganache on the very top to held hold up the fin.
Once the ganache has completely set, you can do the mirror glaze.
- Put the double cream, caster sugar, cocoa power, and 150ml of water into a pan.
- Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, stirring all the time.
- Bring to the boil, and simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Leave to cool for 5 – 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, soak the gelatine in a bowl of water for 5 minutes.
- Squeeze the water out of the gelatine leaves, and stir into the glaze, until dissolved.
- Leave the glaze to cool to 38°, then pass through a sieve into a jug.
- Put the cake on a wire rack on a tray, then pour over the glaze ensuring the whole thing is covered.
- Put the cake in the fridge to set completely.
Now for the wings.
I made these using a DIY chocolate mould, made out of air drying clay.
- Roll out a lump of modelling clay to around 3-5mm thickness, forming a 20x30cm rectangle.
- Using a sharp pencil, mark out the two wings, and the top fin.
- Each wing was a cut-off right-angle triangle, with base 60cm, trailing edge 150cm, wingtip 30cm, and the leading edge whatever it needs to be.
- The fin was a double cut off right angle triangle, with base 80cm, trailing edge 120cm, top 20cm, leading diagonal 120cm, and a short
‘backwards’ leading diagonal of about 20cm.
- When this was completely dry, use cling-film to fill the inside of the model. I also put clingfilm underneath to help it “cling”.
- Temper enough dark or milk chocolate as desired, pour it into the models, and level off with a ruler.
- Leave to cool for 30 mins, then put into the fridge to cool.
- Carefully remove from the mould.
Assembly and decoration.
- Roll out some black fondant icing to cover the cake board.
- Use a brush to swirl on a galaxy using silver glimmer, and dust some stars.
- Move the glazed cake onto the cake board.
- Make a small amount of white chocolate ganache (or just tempered white chocolate), and with a small nozzle pipe
on the windscreen, and over details.
- With a large nozzle (or cut a larger hole), pipe along the sides of the base to glue the wings on.
- Push the top fin into the top of the cake, and pipe along it.