Thursday, 6 January 2011

A blog about my actual life!

Hey everyone!

So it's high time I wrote a blog about my actual life! I hope you enjoyed/found challenging the Psalm 119 blog. I know I did. I'm sad it's over, but it's not really over. The things I've learned will stay with me. I'd like to blog through something else next, maybe one of the gospels? But it's quite a bit commitment, and this term I'll have a dissertation to write! Argh! So anyway, here's what's been going on while I've been busy blogging about other things.

So, the last blog I wrote was about my dinner party. It doesn't feel like it was that long ago, but I guess it was a while. Quite a lot has happened since then. Actually, not that much, but what has happened has been pretty significant! About the time I wrote the last one, I was filling in epic application forms for a position with UCCF: The Christian Unions, which would be a one-year voluntary (i.e. I won't get paid) position on a 'discipleship training programme' working with Christian Unions at universities. About a month ago, I suppose, I had an interview for the job. It was quite an epic thing, being an hour long, but weirdly, I really enjoyed it! Are you supposed to enjoy interviews? Well, I did. Anyway, so I have recently got the letter through to say that I got the job! Hooray! So, as of September, I'll be the new Relay worker for Norwich, so I get to stay in the city and at UEA too! I'm really excited about it! If you want to find out more about what Relay is, go here

It's been Christmas, of course, so that occurred. I was still at uni when my parents put their decorations up, but luckily I got to decorate the church I go to at uni, with some of my friends. Unfortunately I was in an awful mood for the whole last week (or maybe last 2 weeks) of term... so I apologise to everyone I came into contact with... especially Connie and Laurence, who I fear got the full brunt of the thing. Christmas in the Wood household was relaxing and quiet. One set of my grandparents came for the day with their dog Molly, we ate waay too much food, as anybody would, played some games and did some jigsaw puzzles.

Over the holiday period, my parents and I played nine games of Monopoly. Yes, nine. Mum made a score sheet, and if you win a game, you get three points, if you come second you get 2 points, and if you lose you get one point (for good sportsmanship, I suppose) and the winner would be crowned Monopoly champion. I won, of course. My Dad, who is obsessed with Monopoly and always always wins, didn't win a single game. We're hoping it's out of his system now. I think he mentioned something about burning it... (not really).

I've done lots of loserish, crafty things, like cross stitch and paint by numbers, in order to relieve the immense stress I felt at the end of term. I also made loads of cards and finished up my scrap book, so now I need to get a new one, I suppose.

New Year's Eve was fun, we had a party at our church. I went up in the afternoon to help stack the chairs away, and I ended up learning to waltz! There's a lovely man at church, who is 86 I believe, but he doesn't seem any older than 60! He has more energy than me, in fact, most of the time! He led some dancing, and was said teacher of the waltz. Very patient, as some of you may have noticed, I'm not that coordinated... and perhaps a bit clumsy...

The other significant thing is... I cut my hair! Well, I didn't, the hairdresser did. My hair used to reach to the underwire of my bra (sorry for being graphic!) but now it skims my collarbones. I had it cut like Emma from Glee... ( ) if you don't know what she looks like. I really like it. I feel like a grown up now! Which I have to become at some point, I suppose.

I think that's most of what's been occurring in my life, and anyway I have to go and put on some makeup now, because I'm going out with my grandma in a bit. I'm very excited about tomorrow because I'm going to Essex for Beccy's birthday, so I get to see lots of my girlies :) We're going to go out in Essex I think, and then on Saturday I'm going straight back to Norwich, which is great because I miss all my friends sooo much.

So, hope you all had a great Christmas, and wishing you all many blessings in 2011!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

High expectations and grated fingers

There's an Angela Carter novel called Wise Children and all the way through her main characters say that they should "hope for the best and expect the worst." I am very good at hoping for the best, however I am also the kind f person that always expects the best also, much to my detriment. From grades to hairstyles, if things aren't the best that they can be it bothers me more than I care to admit.

So, last night I held my first ever grown-up dinner party. My grandma had sent me some money in the post in order to buy ingredients to cook my housemates and a few friends a nice meal. So I decided to host a fully-fledged, fifties-style, candlelit dinner party.

I started cooking at 11am and just kept going with the cooking, cleaning, and finishing touches until the guests arrived at 7. There were seven of us. I'd prepared carrot and coriander soup, followed by garlic chicken and roasted vegetables, then chocolate mousse served in teacups. I'd deliberately chosen food that would require very little attention once my guests had arrived so that I could do most of the cooking beforehand and enjoy the company of my friends in a relaxed environment.

I posted on a website I've recently discovered for Jane Austen addicts in order to glean some wisdom from those older and wiser than myself. The response was fantastic, really reassuring and encouraging. They all said, though, not to panic. That was the utmost piece of advice. I thought it a strange one. I'm a good cook, I love having my friends round, and I was very much looking forward to putting on a nice dress. Panic seemed like the last emotion that would be fluttering around me.

I had visions of a soiree that was the cross between a banquet at Pemberley and a home-cooked meal by a housewife wearing pearls in the 50's. (Think that episode of Gilmore Girls where Rory cooks for Dean). With immense struggle and numerous complaints from (actually, very understanding) housemates we moved our dining table from the kitchen to the lounge, squeezed every chair in the house around it, held another cutlery amnesty, borrowed wine glasses from here there and everywhere, lit candles and fretted about not having a centrepiece. I put on perhaps my favourite dress (although it fitted much better last time I wore it!), and donned my finest hostess smile to await my guests.

I insisted on taking their coats and pouring their wine. I wouldn't let the men in the kitchen. And I played soothing, dinner party music. I was excited. I had fantasies of a handsome man sweeping me off my feet when I stepped into the kitchen, holding me close and telling me what a fantastic wife I would be one day. If only I had one of those frilly aprons you tie around your waist.

So, the starter went OK, except for my blender isn't that good, so it still had a few lumps of carrots in. I put the main course in just before my guests arrived so that it would be cooking while we sipped our soup ever so delicately and talked of peonies and Picasso. However, by the time we'd finished the starter the food was as far from cooked as the conversation was from Picasso. And I'd forgotten the garnish.

I think the oven can't cope with that amount of food in it, because it was cooking so slowly. To cut a long story short, the vegetables had to be cooked for two hours and we couldn't tell what was a potato and what was a lemon by the end of it. The chicken was more or less cremated, I'm pretty sure, and peas were flying everywhere. And my guests had started on the After Eights due to hunger shakes. They all made yummy noises, though, and were very appreciative. And seeing as I don't have a dog, I'm pretty sure they ate it all.

Now, after a near breakdown in the kitchen previous to this, I was starting to feel a lot calmer now that the main course was over. Nothing could go wrong with my dessert because I'd prepared it hours ago and it didn't require any other cooking. In fact, it didn't require any cooking at all, because it turns out that mousse is just chocolate whipped up with raw eggs, essentially. A very complicated chocolate whipped up with raw eggs, though. Anyway, I'd tasted some previously to make sure it was OK, and I new for a fact that it was delicious.

All that remained to do was to grate some chocolate to sprinkle delicately over it for that extra touch. Tip: always avoid extra touches. I was happily grating some chocolate, with considerable force, when -bam- in goes part of my finger. Well, not part of my finger. But I did grate it, and it did hurt quite a lot, and there was a considerable amount of blood. I'm not good with blood, so of course I overreacted, and presumed I was dying and made quite a fuss.

With some help from my friends the mousse got on the table, by which time everybody was playing poker for After Eights, and we finished off the dinner part of the evening. It was now pretty late.

After this, things got better. We started playing Articulate and I think I actually smiled.

Lessons I have learned from this:
1. Keep it simple. If you are good at cooking chilli con carne, just cook chilli con carne.
2. Don't try to live above your station. If you're a student, act like one.
3. Hope for the best. Expect the worst.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


"he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken." Isaiah 25:8, The Bible

I was reading this verse this morning, and a few things about it struck me, and I started making notes, and it kind of elongated and became this, and I wanted to share it with you all. In this verse we can see that not only is death gone, it is completely engulfed by God, who is the personification of all things good. Not only will we not cry any more, but God himself will wipe away the tears.

I remember, when I was till with my ex-boyfriend, I was really upset one time and he wiped the tears from my face with his hand. It was a really touching, intimate gesture, and it made me feel so much better, because he was getting involved with my pain, he was sympathising in the closest possible way. It was like a promise that he would make it all better.

Of course, he couldn't possibly make it all better, but God can. And he does. How much more of a blessing is it if the Lord of all creation gets involved in our pain this way? If our Creator God intimately cares for all of our personal sufferings? He cares for our pain, it hurts him too, to see us this way, but a hundred times more than a boyfriend, for he loves us a hundred times more, and perfectly.

Not only will he wipe away our tears, but he will remove our disgrace with them: we no longer have to be ashamed of anything at all. The fact that he wipes away our tears suggests more than involvement, though, it implies taking those tears onto his own hands: this is the key. It is sin in the world, our sin--all the things we do against God (from telling a so-called 'white lie' to theft, to murder) that causes pain, corruption, suffering in the world. Ever since Adam and Eve first sinned, the world has been corrupted, it isn't as it should be.

But God intervened. He came to earth himself, as Jesus, but man and God, and lived a perfect life: the only one to live without sin. Then when he willingly died on the cross a beautiful transaction took place; one that is too wonderful for me to comprehend. Jesus took all of our sins (past, present and future sins) and laid them on himself, and in return gave us his record, his spotless life.

So now, if we accept that Jesus has done this for us, when we die God is glad to look upon us and see not our lies, our impurity, our selfishness, which is going against God, and so is punishable by death, but instead he sees Jesus' sinlessness and welcomes us into his arms for eternal life and joy in heaven. This is how he can finally wipe away our tears. This is how he removes the disgrace of his people.

Sunday, 7 November 2010


I have a reading week starting Monday (tomorrow), so on Friday I came home to my 'home home'... i.e. to stay with my parents for a few days. I think I've mentioned before the 'home' confusion of being at uni... what is home? I generally refer to Norwich (uni) as 'home' and Hastings (where my family mostly are) as 'home home'. I have come to the realisation that, despite all this home confusion, or maybe because of it, I feel that Norwich is actually home.

They say that home is where the heart is... maybe that's true. In that case, is my heart in Norwich? Surely my heart is with my parents, the town I grew up in, where I went to school, where I walk my dog? And yet, I yearn for Norwich when I'm not there much more than I yearn for Hastings. Is it because, though I love people in Hastings, there are more people that I love in Norwich? Surely the extent to which I love them comes into consideration? I love my parents gazillions.

When I went to Turkey I was homesick for Hastings... but maybe it was just for my parents? When I've been away, and my parents pick me up from the train station I always feel warm fondness for the streets we drive through to get to our house. But when I've been there for a few days I quickly become disillusioned by all the seagulls and drunk teenagers and closing down shops. Maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder?

Why are there so many clichés to do with hearts and homes? It must be a massive subject, and one which everybody can relate to, in order for all of these to come about. What if our heart is spread out over numerous places? Can we have multiple homes? How to people with separated parents feel about this? What about travellers? Ex-patriots?

But what if one has an undivided heart? You must have noticed the title of my blog, and probably my tattoo. It's from Psalm 86 in the Bible (look it up, in its proper context it's so much more beautiful and meaningful) and I got it to remind me to love God, who saved me, with all of my heart, and not to let other things distract me from this. So, that said, my heart is undivided, and it belongs in heaven, yes? I once heard (or read) a speaker (or writer) say that we should be homesick for heaven... so that's what I want to be: I know that my ultimate destination, and where I belong, is heaven, and so I should be yearning for that above all else. As the apostle Paul would say, "I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14)

That said, here are a list of my favourite things about being at home:

1) my parents
2) my dog
3) my massive, amazingly comfortable bed
4) having food cooked for me
5) living in a house free of mould
6) being able to put my pyjamas on at 5:30pm without being judged
7) not having to think so much my brain hurts
8) having more than 4 and a half tv channels
9) not having to put a 'K' on all my food so I remember it's mine
10) most nerdily of all, my seven, alphabetised bookshelves

Friday, 29 October 2010

Northanger Abbey Life

Okay, so, I haven't blogged for a million years, but here is one, at last, if only a very brief one (I feel that this will be brief, although, perhaps once I get going it will, in fact, be rather long!)

I never thought my third year would involve quite this much work! I think I'm doing double the work of last year, and I'm only doing 2 modules a term, rather than 3. Crazy! I'm enjoying them so much though; we're reading some fantastic books. Maria Edgeworth's 'Belinda' is awesome, and we're reading some fantastic Gothic fiction, also, including the books that Catherine Morland reads in Northanger Abbey.

I have realised that I am most definitely a Catherine myself (and no, that's not actually my proper name, before you ask). She just wanders around this abbey and imposes drama and romance upon it. I like to think that I'm not quite as bad as she is... but I'm not sure. I fall for people way too easily. While we're on the subject of confessions, here's something I discovered yesterday: I realise that when I exit an Internet page, I scroll to the top of the page before I click the X. Isn't that strange? Maybe.

So, Taylor Swift's new album is out! I bought it at the very first opportunity, of course. It's called Speak Now, and it's amazing. I have a new favourite song in the world, 'Sparks Fly'. I played it to my friend on the bus yesterday and he complained that it's too happy. But it's not, really. My fave lyrics are "I could wait patiently, but I really wish you would drop everything now, meet me in the pouring rain; kiss me on the sidewalk, take away the pain." I guess I can identify with that... she knows it's sensible to wait, to be patient, but she really wishes someone would just take a risk on her and sweep her off her feet. Sigh.

However, that said, I am very aware that God is by far the number one thing in my life; or he certainly should be. We had our Christian Union weekend away last weekend, which involved lots of teaching, loads of Scrabble, and not very much sleep! In fact, one night I abandoned watching Beauty and the Beast (possibly my favourite film ever... certainly my favourite Disney film) after the first song, because I needed sleep that badly! Anyway, I was really challenged that we can easily make an idol of something when we take a good thing and make it an ultimate thing. I've been reading a fantastic book, too, called 'When I don't desire God' by John Piper, who writes amazing Christian books. If you don't know Jesus, seriously, get to know him. Sounds cliché, yes, but with him the rest of the world just fades into insignificance. I want to fall even more desperately in love with him.

So, what else has been occurring? I've been out to dinner a few times with various groups of friends. Been for cocktails too, and dressed up all pretty. We had our CU cocktail party, which is always great fun, mostly for the fact that you get to get dressed up--one of my favourite things :)
Tomorrow night I'm running a 'Light Party' at my church with some of my friends, for all of the kids, kind of an alternative to Halloween, celebrating all the light things in the world rather than the darkness. I'm excited about that; we have to dress up in our brightest, sparkliest clothes... sounds like a fabulous opportunity for glittery nail varnish! :D

In summary: loads of busy-ness, lots of fun, tons of food, plenty of cocktails, and God's grace in ABUNDANCE!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


I really like tea, and as an attempt to procrastinate work for a considerable amount of time, I've decided that I shall dedicate a blog to tea. Sophie, one of my housemates, is sitting next to me editing her novel. I'm sitting on the same sofa, with my new novel (all six pages of it...) open on my laptop and failing to write. And failing to work on my assignment that's due in at the end of next week. And failing to do any reading. Although, that said, the books that are most urgent for me to read haven't arrived yet because I tried to buy them on Amazon with a debit card that had expired... so mega fail, really.

I'm just thinking through my typing fingers, really, which I guess is what I always do when I blog, but I did decide that this should be about tea, because it's so often overlooked. I don't think anybody reads this blog anyway, so it probably doesn't matter... however, I did send the link of it to my Mum today when we were talking on Skype. She put it in her favourites, and I felt special that I was my Mum's favourite... as I'm an only child, this probably isn't much of a revelation.

OK, some things about tea:

According to Wikipedia, tea originated in China in around the 10th century BC. So, hooray for China! I commend you greatly.

Tea, apparently, contains more caffeine than coffee, although I know that this is quite a controversial statement. I've also heard that although it does contain more caffeine, it doesn't get absorbed into our bloodstream, although I would beg to differ, because I know how hard I find it to get to sleep if I drink tea after 9pm... but maybe I'm ultra sensitive.

My favourite type of tea I think is traditional English tea, as I am a traditional English lady. However, I guess it's not English, but, in fact, Chinese... even Yorkshire tea? Surely that's from Yorkshire? I'll look into it... to the Internet! OK, says that their tea comes from Assam, in Africa, and from Sri Lanka... so it's not Yorkshire tea at all, but is actually Sri Lankan tea... how do they get away with THAT one? Nonetheless, that is the best kind of tea.

That said, when I am in my fruitier, or more exotic moods, I like to branch out somewhat. I'm quite a fan of Roobois and vanilla Roobois especially, after reading the Number One Ladies' Detective Agency series of books, by Alexander McCall Smith. (If you haven't read them, check them out, they're really lovely, light reads). I'm also quite a fan of chai and vanilla chai. I'm sensing a theme her... perhaps there should be a vanilla Yorkshire tea, and then I would feel very happy. Maybe I should contact them about this. Maybe I could get them to sponsor my blog?

When I'm revising for exams or am stressing about anything else, I'm also a humongous fan of camomile tea. I discovered this during the first year of my A-levels, and it's amazing how calm it does make you. That said... a normal cup of tea makes me feel very much calmer in any situation. I'm very British in that if anybody is distressed, my immediate reaction is to offer them a cup of tea. Also as soon as anybody steps into my house I offer them a cup of tea.

I love spontaneous cups of tea. When you bump into a friend when you don't expect to and have a cup of tea together, or when somebody happens to pop by and tea drinking occurs. I believe that wonderful things can happen through tea drinking. Secrets are told more easily and problems are solved or discussed much more smoothly when a cup of tea is involved. Tea brings people together.

Tea paraphernalia is beautiful, too. I just Googled 'teacup' to prove this point, and I found this, which I absolutely love: (it's not anything to do with me, I just think it's pretty.) I really want to own a beautiful, matching tea set, but I'll wait until I move out of student accommodation, I think.

One of my favourite feelings in the world is when you've had a long day and you finally get to sit on the sofa and you can cup a warm cup of tea in your hands and breathe slowly. Sigh... that, I'm pretty sure, is a snapshot of heaven here on earth.

Sophie, aforementioned housemate, just called through to me, "Why are there sausages on the table?" and I thought I would share it with you, kind reader of my blog, so that you might have a glimpse of what life in my house is like. That more or less sums it up. On a similar note, I was Skyping my Mum today, which I believe I already mentioned. She went through to the kitchen and I heard her exclaim, "oo! I found parsnips in the oven!" Yes, my mother had, in fact, discovered some peeled, chopped, cooked parsnips in her oven.

So, now that I have ad-libbed for far too long about how wonderful tea is, I think I shall go and make a cup. And maybe cook the sausages that are on the table. Thank you for bearing with me, if you did. And if you didn't, well, then you won't be reading this

Thursday, 30 September 2010


I just managed to write 1,000 words of my new novel in the last half hour, so I'm feeling pretty accomplished. Of course, immersing yourself in a world that doesn't exist tends to have adverse effects on one's relationship with reality... and mine's always been dodgy anyway. What I'm getting at, I suppose, is that I'm feeling smooshy and daydreamy.

I've discovered that Yurima goes very well with this novel... or at least with the first chapter of it, anyway. And listening to his music has always made me inclined to daydream anyway. I'm now watching the video for Taylor Swift's new song, Mine, I'm adding the link just because I like it so much. It's not my favourite song of hers, or my favourite of her music videos, but it kind of goes with my mood, somehow. I'm a geek, I know. Is it possible to be a princess and a geek at the same time? I hope so.

I'm trying to chill a little before Bright Sparks this evening. This is the 5-11s group at my church that I help out with. It's so much fun, but exhausting! This is the first one since the summer holidays, so I'm excited to see what God has been doing in these kids' lives since Holiday Club... and if they can still remember the memory verse... I can! I think... "Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as rubbish. All I want is Christ!" Philippians 3:8. Yes, I can remember it, then. And it's holding me in good stead too. What a great verse to constantly remind myself of! Whenever I get stressed out or sad or lonely or... dare I say it... obsessing over my hair, I have to remind myself that NOTHING is as wonderful as knowing Jesus! Hooray! :) Hmm... this is more of a diary than a blog.

Er... steering back into the realms of blog-ness... so, started lectures again. I'm really enjoying everything so far, and love getting back into studying. I think I'd been away from it too long: over the summer, I was re-reading some of the Twilight books, and in my head I was planning essays on them! How super-geeky! One of my seminar leaders was going on about Twilight, actually, and saying how we shouldn't completely dismiss Stephenie Meyer as rubbish because, although her writing is pretty atrocious, she has somehow managed to single handedly create a Gothic revival in literature, and spawn a whole new breed of vampires... albeit, sparkly ones.

I do like sparkly things, though. I might use some sparkly nail varnish... that would be nice. So... daydreamy mood is running out as I'm thinking about how hungry I am. So I guess this is a short blog, and a pretty stupid one, I'm not sure it really has a point. But does something need to have a point?