Tag Archives: gifts

A Little Treat For Me

I always find gifts strange. They are mostly useless, or just not what something I would ever choose to buy for myself.

But every now and then…there is something that ticks all the right boxes. During the Pandemic, I have expanded my collection of spices. I had so many that they were becoming very disorganized in the cupboards. Sometimes I was buying spices that I had already had (because it was hard to see them in the cupboard.

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So, the treat for me – a beautiful new spice rack – made with oak and slate and some chrome bars to keep the spice jars in place.

So useful, so well made, so beautiful – I just love it!!!

We are all so different – if someone gives me a box of chocolates, or a bottle of wine, or jewellery, they end up in the cupboard and jar and are forgotten about…until I decide to give them to someone else.

But my spice rack is a keeper!!! It is on display in my kitchen and every time I see it I want to smile. So thank you to the person who paid for it. I am very grateful…and it really is a lovely little treat for me!

Dream Dress… And The Moral Of The Story Is…

Screenshot_2018-04-13-19-48-11I heard a story a while ago about motives.  Forgive me for not remembering the exact words but I think you will agree it is an effective thought provoking tale.

It is about a man who loves his wife.  He knows she is a wonderful woman and is proud of her.  He does not doubt her loyalty to him.  He sees how beautifully she keeps the home and how much effort she puts in to keeping the whole family looking smart and remaining healthy.  He truly loves his wife.

He takes his wife out one day and as they  are walking along, she suddenly becomes distracted by something.  He turns around to see his wife is staring into a shop window with her nose pressed up against the glass.  Inside the window is a dress, a very beautiful dress that has caught her attention.  He remarkswindow shopping to his wife that it is a pretty dress.  She says “It is gorgeous!”  He asks his wife how much it costs, to which she responds, “Oh don’t worry, I am only looking,, it is too expensive really.  I just thought it was beautiful.”

After the day together, the man thinks about how his wife was gazing at the dress she thought was so beautiful.  He thinks about how much he loves his wife and how good she is to him and the family.  He decides he will buy her that dress she liked as a gift.  A surprise.  She will not be expecting it, their anniversary is three months away.  It will be a way just to show how much he loves and appreciates her.

So he goes back to the shop the next day and takes a closer look at the dress.  He discovers the price and is a little horrified at first and is inclined to think about looking for a dress that is much less expensive, but then he remembers he wants to show his giftwife how much he loves her.  He has even gone to the trouble of looking at the size of her  other dresses in her closet to make sure he will pick the correct size.  He buys the dress and he asks the store assistant to wrap it carefully in gift-paper and include a large bow.

He takes the gift home and sneaks it into the bedroom for his wife to find later.  That evening he is with her when she finds the box with her surprise inside.

She unfastens the bow and removes the lid from the box.  She takes the protective crepe paper that is around the dress.  She cannot believe her eyes.  It is that dress, the beautiful dress she saw in the window.  She is so thrilled. She embraces her husband.  He smiles like a cheshire cat as he observes her reaction. She tries the dress on.  Will it fit?  It fits!  It fits perfectly.  She twirls around and looks at the dress in the mirror.

Who is the best husband in the world???!!!

best husband

She is so ecstatic.  She embraces her husband again and thanks him with tears in her eyes.  She looks up at him and thanks him and asks him why he has given her such a beautiful gift now out of the blue?

Then… he opens his mouth and ruins everything:

“Well….you have been looking kind of tired and miserable lately.  And I know you have put weight on because you have been comfort eating.  You have been rather irritable with me and the kids.”

Ugh!

The dress comes off.  The dress is back in the box.  “Take it back!  Take it back!  I don’t want it.  You think I’m fat and miserable and I look tired.  You think I am irritable!  Take it back!”

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Well, you may feel for the husband a little here.  But doesn’t this little story show that it’s not just the gift but the motive that counts.  It is very likely that when we give we do deep down have genuine motives.  But how does our gift come across?

The gift might not be a dress, it might be our time, our words, our listening ear, cooking a meal for someone or any kind of token.  But is there a question mark over why we are giving?  Is it begrudgingly given?  Do we feel it is a compulsory must to give something, but give little thought to the gift?  Or do we say or do something which spoils the gift and takes all the joy out of it?

Ever since I heard that story…I have tried to think things through a bit more when it comes to any giving…I don’t want to be in a rut of doing things by rote without putting my heart in to them.  I want the gift I give to send a message that is harmony with the rest of my thoughts towards the recipient.

Someone super wise was reported to say “There is more happiness in giving, than in receiving”.  That is a super lovely truth that I don’t ever want to lose sight of.

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Would You Like To Meet The In-Laws?

JUST TO EXPLAIN – THIS IS A POST I WROTE THREE YEARS AGO, AND AM NOW RE-PUBLISHING…OF COURSE I AM NOT SPENDING ANY TIME WITH MY FAMILY – WE ARE IN A NATIONAL LOCKDOWN!!!

Salted Caramel

Tomorrow, I am spending all day with my little sisters and their husbands.  I bought one of my brothers-in-law a very naughty gift.  My sister is going to tell me off.  He loves caramel, as do I.  So, I bought him a jar of Bonne Maman Caramel Spread – which is pure utter naughtiness.

©GIIC sarl, Pol Guillard, Tunis 2007

For my other brother-in-law I have bought a Sundried Tomato Spread – which is also yummy – I am quite addicted to it at the moment.  I am finding it incredibly hard to find though.  I used to buy it in the local “Le Pain Quotidien”, but they have stopped ordering it for their shelves.  The only other branch I know that still stock it is on the other side of London!

There are so many fantastic artisan delis, patisseries and artisan bakeries around here, I will be forever finding gifts and forever at risk of spending more than my budget dictates.  I have bought some other foodie goodies…cakes, posh crackers, jars and bottles of this and that and the other…all yummy gifts for my younger family members.

I would like to tell you about my younger brothers-in-law.  (Sadly, the older ones are not worth a mention having negated their marriage vows, but the younger ones are super. Both of my sisters will celebrate eleven years of marriage this year.)  Yet my two younger brothers-in-law are oh so different.

One I must admit I have a super soft spot for – thus the caramel spread I bought for him. If he was ten years older, then I would have grabbed him before my sister Milly had a chance!!!  He is very down to earth and fun.  A hard-worker.  I love that he married Milly because he is just the type of person I get on with and I know my whole family adore him.

At first, he seemed to have a bit of a shy streak.  I remember years back when he came a-visiting, there were a few occasions when he seemed relaxed on his arrival, but then something odd happened.  I think as he saw us girls chattering away ten to the dozen, sometimes he seemed to feel the need to escape.  And escape he would!  Quite literally, he would step into the kitchen or outside the house for a moment to himself.  I was not sure at the time whether he found our family’s noisy chatter and laughing a bit over-whelming.

My opinion changed when we went to a get-together with his family.  I started to doubt that he was overwhelmed by our noisy chatter because his family were incredibly loud.  So, I started to wonder what was it that he found challenging about us. I drew the conclusion his family are very male dominated – lots of very loud and lively blokes always laughing and singing and play fighting.  We were female dominated (six girls and one boy) so we chatted non-stop and laughed and sang but I guess we were just so different.  He was not used to so many lively girls.

His family are amazing….it will take me too long to tell you about them now.  I will tell you more in other posts.  When he and my sister first married, I went to stay for a weekend with them.  I was amazed that she had kind of been thrown in the deep end with doing all the house-work and cooking.  He did help with the house-work, but Milly seemed to be determined to be a domestic diva.  In addition, all these boys who were used to my brother-in-law being their best mate, would just turn up at the house, without ringing ahead to ask if that was convenient.  My sister would suddenly be making dinner for 12.  Milly just got on with it.  She is the same now, she just gets on with whatever work there is to do.  One by one his mates stopped just dropping in without an invitation, once they were getting married.  In that fairly remote corner of the countryside, it does seem that people get married and start having children at quite a tender age.  Now most of them have children.  They all appreciate that it is easier to plan in advance rather than turning up at the home of your friends, expecting to be fed.

My brother-in-law is a typical member of his family.  The entire clan seem to be made up of builders, window cleaners, farmers…they are all hard-working, down-to-earth and very jolly and gregarious.  Love them, truly truly…they have an infectious love of life and laughter of heart.  The countryside were where they all live…it is simply stunning…healing for the heart!

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My other younger brother-in-law is super too.  But a very different kettle of fish.  He had a crush on my sister from the age of thirteen.  Mandy was not sure about him for a long time, but I think she found that being adored by someone was irresistible.

He also comes from a close-knit family who liked to do a lot of socialising and holidaying.  They are a town family like our own.  He had a super-mum.  Now I think most mums do a lot…but when I say super-mum.  You know what I mean by the phrase “Super-mum” don’t you? –Screenshot_2018-05-29-22-33-57-1 However this Supermum probably did too much…and not necessarily wisely.  It is a risk.  He and his brother were wearing pretty much identical clothing well into their twenties.  Always smart and pristine. Why?  Because their super-mum would shop for them.  She was incredible at cleaning and washing and ironing and cooking.  She kept both her home and family looking immaculate.  Not saying there is anything wrong with that.  But it may have caused some challenges for my sister.  When Mandy was first married it seemed her husband expected her to be just like his mum…just like his Supermum!

Well, Mandy is one tough lady, she is not like Milly and I at all.  Milly and I get on with everyone and would rather someone walked all over us than pick a fight.  Mandy has a streak of fire than runs through her bones.  You are wise not to cross her!  Don’t borrow her clothes without asking permission! She soon made sure my brother-in-law understood that she was not his mother!

Mandy found it hard to get used to my brother-in-law’s family at first.  They are a lovely family, but she was a bit overwhelmed at first that his mum wanted her to be part of the family immediately and to get all close and cosy.  My brother-in-law’s mum and my sister are not alike.  However, all that changed when my sister realized that every Sunday his mum would cook a giant roast dinner with two different types of meat and always a scrummy dessert.  Mandy loves her meat!

It is true though, they have very different personalities and have certainly had times when they did not see each other’s point of view.  But they both love my brother-in-law.  My sister finds it odd that his mum buys them both thermal underwear each winter…but she accepts that these are habits that are unlikely to ever change.  I would love someone to buy me thermal underwear every winter!

Anyway….back to my brother-in-law.  I remember the days when he was courting our Mandy.  There he was with his brother, both of them looking like catalogue models wearing smart jeans, polo-necks, cashmere sweaters, smart loafers – and we were all off to the beach.  They knew we were going to the beach.  My sisters and our friends and I were all wearing shorts and T-shirts and flip-flops.  The beach meant fun!  We were all running through the waves and sand and screaming and singing.  Naturally, more than a little water was splashed around…and those boys were freaking out because we splashed their beautiful clothes.  Well, I did feel sorry for their super-mum having more work to do.  But in all honesty, we wondered why on earth they would wear those clothes for a day out at the beach.

My sister has worked on him.  She has helped him to see that rather than always looking as if you are a catalogue model, it is best to wear clothes appropriate for the occasion.  He is a great lad.  Most importantly he loves my sister – which makes him wonderful – ha!

I am very pleased with both of my younger brothers-in-law.  Not only do we feel delighted that they are a part of our family, but we love that we are an addition to their families.  Before any of my siblings married, we did feel a bit unconnected, not sure how the rest of the world regarded us.  Having in-laws is super.  We are no longer a family, more like an empire.  All workers who love life, love family, love laughter and love food.  Nothing special really…just what we humans were designed for.  I know not everyone has this now…I do know it.  It is not right.

I read in history class once that strong families make strong communities and ultimately make strong empires.  I also read that often the fall of empires is once they acquire great wealth, moral depravity and family breakdown has eroded the structure of their society.  Their very foundations have crumbled.

In my mind…the whole human family should be exactly that…a family where every single person can thrive…working hard, and having good food and loved ones to share life with and to sing, dance and laugh with.  One glorious day hey!!

The Greatest And Grandest Gifts

Lake, Sunset, Abendstimmung, Romance, Nature, Landscape

We will feast on pretty sunset skies and the magical frost upon the lake. We will drink in the crisp clean air and be thankful as we feel our lungs fill up and warm our hearts. We will relish in the knowledge that soon this entire earth will be cleared of corruption and we will live in harmony with our home planet.

As forever stretches out ahead of us – will we remember the moments of hardship that plagued us in the past? When all of the damage has been undone, all the sadness forgotten, when we are reunited with our loved ones, will we recall the dark days when we thought our future was doomed?

We are the recipients of the most extraordinary and beautiful gifts. Life is a gift. We have senses that heighten our enjoyment of life. Our home planet is the most extraordinary planet that has been discovered in the universe because it is teaming with life, abundant in colour and colossal variety. We ought not to throw away these precious gifts.

But there is more to come. The Grand Giver has promised to undo all the damage that has been done to this gift. He has also vowed to perform the gift that beats all others – the resurrection is ahead of us. The greatest celebration in all human history as our hearts are healed of grief and pain.

So if you open a gift bag and find cheap perfume and scary socks, do not forget, somebody has given you the greatest of gifts and will continue to do so. How often do we say “THANK YOU”?

Frisky Fifty And Fabulous!

I have wanted to find ways to give to Goldfinch recently…for being wonderful. I feel so helpless from 10,100 miles away. So I have been racking my brain to think of little ways I can show him I think of him all the time.

I sent him a very sweet Australian gift – a large dark chocolate connoisseurs collection box from Australian chocolatiers Haigh’s. He probably did not want a big box of chocolates. But I sometimes don’t know how to light up his day from so far away. It is a big box. I hope he will share it with his friends and family and think of me.

How do you give someone a hug from 10,100 miles away? It is so frustrating!

These Boots Are Made For Walking

Nothing says “WE LOVE YOU” quite like a pair of wellington boots.

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When friends who want to cheer you up know just how to make your smile. When they decide that it is is not satisfactory that your old wellington boots spring leaks. When they conclude that your old wellies would make perfect flower pots and you need wellies with a firmer sole to get you through the muddy months in the English woods.

Aaaaah! Sigh! There are so many different ways to show love…and wellington boots are definitely a great way to do so.

Sacrificing Yourself

I was thinking about love the other day. I think about love and it’s many flavours and expression a considerable amount of the time.

Portrait, People, Darkness, ArtLast week in the CARAMEL CRUNCH, I asked a question that touched on how having very different beliefs can affect two people who are romantically in love and want to spend their lives together. I was absolutely fascinated by the replies to this question.

A lot of other bloggers expressed wisdom – one way or the other. I was thinking afterwards about the decisions I have made. I would not claim they were the right decisions necessarily, but I was thinking about why I chose to love someone with whom I could not share some of the most cherished parts of me.

Chocolate, Dark, Coffee, ConfiserieMany years ago, someone asked me – if you are going to buy some chocolates for someone you love, do you buy their favourite chocolates, or do you buy the ones that you like to eat?

I love dark chocolate, love it! But I have realized that I seem to be the only one amongst my colleagues who likes dark chocolate, so if I buy chocolates as a thank you to my work mates, what kind of chocolates do you think I should buy?

Meat, Food, Beef, Steak, Enjoy, BarbecueThen they asked me – if you were going to cook a special meal for a loved one, would you cook their favourite dish, or would you prepare a meal with the ingredients you enjoy?

I am vegetarian. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was six years old. I have never once had the desire to eat meat. But for people I love, I have many many times cooked meat.

I am not saying my decisions were necessarily the right ones when it came to sacrificing my preferences for the sake of the man I love, but I will say this – self-sacrificing love has brought me a deeper joy than easy love where you love someone because they are exactly what you are looking for.

I think there is a line…if the man who I loved asked me to commit a crime or harm someone – well that would be a NO!!! But in other matters it is up to you to decide the sacrifices, compromises and gifts you are prepared to give up, give in or just give…because of love. You will be happy or unhappy with your decision. In some ways…a decision is proved right by the happiness it results in.

The Sweetest Memories

Oh goodness, so many lovely people have done very sweet things for me! I could spend all month telling you about the gorgeous people I have been privileged to meet, work with and become close friends of. That is what lovely people do…they do sweet things.

But I will be honest with you, some of the sweet things they did…though I greatly appreciated the thought behind the deed or gift, they were things I did not necessarily want. Too many chocolates have come my way. I have had to give them away. I couldn’t eat them, I would have put so much weight on!

I have been spoilt! I think people have appreciated the sacrifices I had made to be an international volunteer, and when they realized I had not had any wages (for five years in total) they did some very sweet things – I was invited to the theatre and concerts, people paid for me to go to lovely restaurants with them, or to have a holiday with them – really really wonderful kindness.

hope1People have bought candles for me – candles creep me out. All I see is a fire hazard. I give them straight to someone else, who I know does like candles, or a charity shop. I have been given clothes I would never dream of wearing (again I give them to friends). Also lots of bubblies – bath gels, salts, hand creams. perfumed soaps. And then there are all the teddies and cuddly toys. I am just not a cuddly toy kind of a person. (Except for the little teddy Goldfinch gave me – but that is different!)

But when someone has done something or given me something that I really really loved, I am just blown away by it. I can think of several examples, but here is one that is special to me. I had done something sweet. I won’t say what it is. So as a way of thanking me, someone did something extraordinary sweet for me. He built me a desk!

deskI had always wanted a wooden desk. When I was a teenager I saved my pocket money carefully so that I could buy one. We went to the nearest Ikea to buy the pine desk that I had set my heart on. It was around £350. Anyway, the local Ikea in Warrington did not have it in stock, but they said there was one in stock up in Leeds. So we drove all the way to Leeds to buy it. My pocket money was cash of course, so we handed over the money and in return we left the store with a very heavy flatpack wrapped up in cardboard. Dad tied it to the roof rack of the car.

journey home.gifWell the weather deteriorated rapidly. The wind was howling, the rain was lashing down. There is a stretch of motorway (I think it is the M62, but I should check that) which is very exposed and the wind was so strong it seemed to be pushing the car right over towards the hard shoulder. Suddenly, there was this horrific noise, and we saw panels of wood go flying all over the road. Dad had to pull over. My Ikea flat-packed desk was all over the place. Some of it had flown right over the motorway bridge. Other pieces were in the road and cars were driving over and I could see pieces were breaking.

annie teen1When Dad rang Ikea later on, they said that if he had paid with a credit card there would have been some insurance, but because we paid with my pocket money (cash) there was nothing they could do. Can you imagine my tears!

I was so disheartened. I remember the disappointment vividly even now. I carried on studying curled up on the sofa or on my bed, which was ok, but not like having a desk. Some time later Dad bought me a desk as a surprise. But it wasn’t the one I really wanted. It was one of those computer stations really – no personality. Still, I was glad of it. I spent many hours working at that desk.

Well…when I moved down south I ended up living in a beautiful renovated barn on a country estate (for four months of the year, while the owners were away, I had to live in the actual mansion house). I spent a huge amount of time working for local charities, including doing the accounts for local charities.

gift.jpgWell, as I mentioned earlier, I did something sweet to help someone. Around two weeks later they drove up outside my pretty abode. I went out to see them and they said they had something for me in the car, but they needed to assemble it. I could not believe my eyes when I saw it. They had built a beautiful wooden desk. It was large. It had two cabinets either side, one with three drawers and one with a cupboard with a mid-shelf inside it. It was so perfect.

It was the perfect present, the most glorious gift! Gorgeous people have done some very sweet things for me, and I am so glad because it is always touching. But when someone finds out what you would really really love to have, and takes the time to make a beautiful gift which is just what you need and looks stunning…well, you never ever can forget sweet deeds like that – can you?!!!

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This post is my response to the writing prompt from Sarah Elizabeth Moore

https://sarahelizabethmoore.org/2019/09/22/writing-prompt-38/

 

I’m So Gin Love

gin

I am not very good at thinking of gifts. All the time I am with Goldfinch I am listening out, hoping to pick up on his likes and preferences, in the hopes I can use that information to surprise him with a gift.

I had no idea until he was leaving England that he likes gin. He never touched a drop of  alcohol in all the time I was with him. Probably because he was usually driving.

Always looking out for opportunities and new ways to show love.

The Gift Of Love

gifts.jpgI remember hearing someone (I cannot remember who) say something that had a big effect on me. It made me think about how I expressed my appreciation and regard for friends, family and my Creator. It was about gifts. Well, actually it was about worship. But, the principle can be applied to many areas. They developed their point with the following questions?

  • If you love someone and you want to buy them a gift – what do you buy? Something that you would want to receive yourself as a gift, or something that you know they would want?
  • If you were to buy the chocolates for the person you love, would you buy your own favourite chocolates, or the chocolates they like best?
  • If you were to cook a special meal for the person that you love, would you cook your own favourite dish, or would you prepare their favourite flavours and ingredients?

My point on this occasion is, I bought a gift for Goldfinch. It’s not something I would choose for myself. It’s not my cup of tea, but I suspect it is something he is going to be delighted with. I am hoping, he is going to be  very happy Goldfinch and I am going to be in the good books and regarded as a fabulous girlfriend. A girlfriend who is always trying to find ways to show her love for the man who makes her so happy.

I am so excited about the gift I found for Goldfinch. It’s not the kind of gift I would want, but I love him, and love is about getting to know a person and finding out what they love. You can probably see why the person who made the point was using it in regard to worship.