30 Things in my 30’s

30 Things in my 30's | The Open Home

Last week I turned the big 3-0 and to embrace this next decade I decided to make a list of 30 things I would like to do in my 30’s. Some are big life goals, the things I dream about and others are simply fun or grown up things I’ve been meaning to get round to. In no particular order…

  1. Get a good camera and learn how to use it!
  2. Start a Social Science degree
  3. Grow our family through adoption
  4. Make a patchwork quilt for each of my girls
  5. Go on a flower arranging course
  6. Learn to embroider
  7. Finally learn to knit!
  8. Learn to play the ukulele with my girls
  9. Start learning to speak German
  10. Get a pet (maybe a rabbit?)
  11. Start a veggie patch
  12. Try Beekeeping
  13. Shear a sheep
  14. Read all of Agatha Christie’s Poirot
  15. Read the Anne of Green Gables series
  16. Read the Little House on the Prairie series
  17. Make a Will
  18. Become a blood donor
  19. Sign up to be an organ donor
  20. Go for a Chest & Heart check up
  21. Try kayaking
  22. Climb a mountain
  23. Go to a West End Show in London
  24. Take the girls to the Lake District
  25. Visit Keithly in Yorkshire (where my Gran was evacuated to during WW2)
  26. Visit our friends in Australia & New Zealand
  27. Touch down in the USA
  28. Go on a weekend away with a gal pal
  29. Open an Etsy shop
  30. Celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary in style!

What goals do you have on your list?

{Books Lately} July 2016

Books Lately | The Open Home

Well it’s been a long time since I shared with you some of the books I’ve been reading as I’ve kind of had a bit of reading block these past few months and just couldn’t work my way through anything, until recently. I then devoured 3 books in just over a month, which is actually a lot for me. So here I am linking up with Quick Lit over on Modern Mrs Darcy again to share with you some short and sweet reviews of the books I’ve been reading lately.

Books Lately July 2016 | The Open HomeThe Rings of My Tree: A Latvian Woman’s Journey by Jane E. Cunningham

Once started this book is hard to put down. I have read quite a few biographies by survivors of World War Two, mainly set in the Netherlands and mainly written by Jews or those trying to hide the Jews, but this book is different. Mirdza is not a Jew so this book does not follow the usual theme of holocaust horrors but instead highlights the journey of a young Latvian woman who is forced to flee her country in 1944, not because of the threat of the Nazis, but because of the invasion of The Red Army. I had never before considered the double threat that eastern Europe and the Baltic States faced with both the Nazis and the Soviets fighting to claim their soil. The end of the war did not bring freedom to Latvia it brought a new regime that would be in power for many years to come. I could feel Mirdza’s anger and anguish as she faced life as a displaced person, an incredibly fascinating account particularly in light of the current refugee crisis that is happening today in Europe. The story is a wonderful reminder that “where there is life, there is hope.”

Books Lately July 2016 | The Open HomeThe Earth is Singing by Vanessa Curtis

Continuing with the theme of World War Two and Latvia this fictional story is inspired by the authors own Latvian Jewish heritage. The story starts in June 1941 when the Nazis “liberate” Latvia from the Soviets and swiftly put their anti-semitic plans into place. As told by Hanna, an ordinary fifteen year old girl who also happens to be a Jew, life is about to change drastically. This book is beautifully written, incredibly thought provoking and yet horrific at the same time. This book highlights the pain that is felt when your own community seem to have turned against you, a fresh perspective that is not always explored in other books set in the same era. As with reading all books detailing the holocaust it is hard to comprehend how some people can treat their fellow human beings in such a harsh and evil way. This book is very detailed which is why I also recommend it with a brief word of warning: do not read this book before going to bed! The story follows the historic events of the Rumbula massacre which is incredibly disturbing. I’ve been reading books about World War Two and the holocaust since my mid teens but never before have I read of an event quite so wretched. Despite the horrors, this is a story that should be told.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organising by Marie KondoBooks Lately July 2016 | The Open Home

As a self confessed neat freak, books about decluttering and organising always appeal to me as I’m always looking for new ways to fine hone my system. However, I’m also a bit wary of these books as some I’ve read in the past have been so basic they’ve just not offered me anything new. I’m pleased to confirm though that The KonMari method however, does have a lot to offer even the tidiest of people.  Marie Kondo is a cleaning consultant based in Japan and by the sounds of it works with some hardcore hoarders. This book is not really about everyday tidying up (which is really just putting things back in their place) but rather about the one-off decluttering and organising that will put your house in order. The first step is to work your way through her suggested categories and discard, discard, discard! Most of her clients discard at least two thirds of their belongings and are left with only the items that truly bring them joy. Her guidance of only keeping items that spark joy has become one of the main things that sets her approach aside from others, that and her folding and storage method for clothing, both of which I can confirm work really well in practice. If you struggle to keep your home tidy, desperately need to declutter or like me just enjoy organising your home then this book is definitely worth a read.

What books have you been reading lately?

Malawi Flashbacks

I can hardly believe that today marks ten years since we first visited the country of Malawi in southern Africa. Malawi was such a huge part of our lives and dreams for so many years that I can’t help but take this opportunity to look back and reflect on our time in the country and what we learnt from our experiences.


Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Lilongwe Market a burst of vibrant colour.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
A very obliging model in Dedza with his load of sugar cane.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Picture perfect Salima on Lake Malawi.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
The older baby room at The Crisis Nursery in capital city, Lilongwe.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
The moment Malawi captured my heart.

Heading out to southern Africa at 19 years old with my then fiance, just four months before we got married was thought to be crazy to most people. However, it turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made as it was during this trip that we confirmed our call to serve in some form of full-time ministry. We had a heart for mission (both at home and overseas) and Malawi definitely tugged on our heart strings.


Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Fresh water.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Full tummies at the feeding centre in Mgona.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Learning through play.
Joining in the fun.
It’s at moments like these that I loved being an OT Assistant!

Our first visit left us wanting to learn more so a year later we returned to stay with a missionary family who had been living and working in the country for many years. We learnt so much about life in Malawi and the benefits of living simply so that others can simply live. I loved putting my occupational therapy assistant skills to use and we could really picture our futures being here.


Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
With smiles like this you can see why we kept returning!
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Bathtime Malawi style!
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Quite possibly the happiest little girl in the world!
Cafe culture in Malawi is pretty sweet!
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
A sweet face I’ll never forget.

This third visit challenged me in many ways and saw me stepping outside of my comfort zone on quite a few occasions. Ultimately I learnt that serving God would at times break my heart and that I would need resilience to work in the areas I felt most called.


Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Beautiful chitenje fabric in the market of Bvumbwe.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Football camps are popular in Malawi.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Malawian made footballs.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
Playing OT Assistant again at COBT.
Flashbacks and reflections of our trips to Malawi | The Open Home
This mother kindly let us take a family photo of her with her daughter and newborn twin boys, Crispin and Christopher, on the maternity ward in Bvumbwe.

This was to be our final visit to the country as we hoped to move out to serve full-time the following year. After this trip we left the country feeling confident about where we felt we could best serve – The Husby with the local church and me, amongst orphans and street kids.

Five years on from that final visit and no, we are not living in Malawi, but we are working with the local church here in Guernsey and continue to have a vision and a passion for orphans and children in care.

Life is sometimes unexpected and in time we learnt that our calling to serve God was not restricted to the context of Malawi.

Malawi will always hold a very dear place in our hearts as we wouldn’t be who we are or where we are today without the country being part of our story. I now look forward to the day that I can return to Malawi, this time introducing my girls to the country that captured my heart.

Is there a country that has captured your heart?

{Books Lately} March 2016

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My reading has slowed down a little of late mainly because most of my spare time this past month has gone on letter writing and mail art. However I am still linking up with Quick Lit over on Modern Mrs Darcy to share with you some short and sweet reviews of a couple of books I’ve been reading lately.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 22.47.22Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

I adore reading books that are written in letters and this childhood classic by Jean Webster did not disappoint. Set in the early 1900’s the story follows orphan Jerusha “Judy” Abbott through her college years as she sets out to become a writer. Judy writes rather witty letters to her anonymous and rich benefactor, a trustee of the old fashioned orphanage where she grew up. I was able to guess who Daddy-Long-Legs was early on in the book but this did not take away from the books charm, it’s an incredibly enjoyable read with themes of social reform and women’s rights. I now plan to read the sequel to this story, Dear Enemy.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 22.46.57French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billion

When it comes to food (and fashion) the French seem to know what they are doing, don’t they? This book is the personal story of a Canadian mother who moved to France with her french husband and two young daughters only to discover that here children ate “grown up” up food. What followed was a year of food education that led to her coming up with ten food rules that took her girls from being incredibly picky to gourmet eaters. These food rules are mainly things to encourage or avoid, such as encourage family meal times and avoid snacking and eating alone. I was able to glean a lot from this book. Thankfully my girls are usually good eaters, but I have definitely picked up on some areas to work on both for them and for me. I highly recommend it to parents who are willing to put in the hard work and for adults in general who want to improve their own eating habits.


What books have you been reading lately?

{Books Lately} February 2016

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Due to computer issues I was too late to link up with Quick Lit over on Modern Mrs Darcy last month. However, I’ve been rather pleased with my reading attempts of late. I’ve been managing to squeeze in lots of reading time despite my toddler dropping her lunchtime nap and I’ve even managed to add in some fiction! So here you have it, some some short and sweet reviews of the books I’ve been reading lately.

Simplicity Parenting Book ImageSimplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

This is quite simply the BEST PARENTING BOOK I have ever read! It’s full of so much good stuff that I intermittently go back and re-read it to keep things fresh in my mind. Kim John Payne is a Child Psychologist with experience working in war torn countries in south east Asia. He was shocked to discover when returning to the US that many children were presenting with the same symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder as the children he had worked with overseas. The reason for this he discovered was the strain of a life lived with “too much” – too much stuff, too much information, too many choices and too much stress, all at a pace that is unsustainable and leads to burnout. So the answer? Simplify.

This book is not about making parenting simple but about parenting with the goal of simplicity for your child. The book of course tackles topics such as how to simplify your home, which toys to chuck out, how to manage screen time etc, but it is the chapters on rhythm and filtering out the adult world that I found most interesting. I highly recommend this book to all parents and parents-to-be, it’s easier to start as you mean to go on that’s for sure, but it’s never to late to slow things down and make the changes that will enable your child to enjoy a more carefree childhood.

You Are Your Child's First Teacher Book ImageYou Are Your Childs First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy

I’ve always had a particular interest in earlier years education, probably because my Mum ran a preschool and I too considered this career pathway whilst in high school. I actually ended up going the health and social care route rather than the child care one but my interest remains the same, hence this book. Drawing from her experiences with Waldorf Steiner education, Rahima Baldwin Dancy shows that education starts way before formal schooling. The parents are in fact the child’s first teachers and the home the basis for all learning. I love this view, it definitely resonates with me.

The chapters explaining child development are particularly interesting and I have found them to be of use with understanding the developmental stages of my own girls and how to encourage their learning rather than hinder it. Interestingly this book also focuses a lot on rhythm in family life and how this helps children to thrive in the early years and beyond. Definitely worth a read if you are interested in child development, early years education and home education.

And the Shofar Blew Book ImageAnd the Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers

I always enjoy a Francine Rivers book. I love how her Christian fiction can be so relevant to real life, feeding my faith and recharging my batteries at the same time. This book follows the story of an enthusiastic young pastor who loses his way over the years, neglecting his family and turning from his faith, all consumed by his ambition to grow his church. This was not my favourite Francine Rivers book but it is most definitely a good read and I really got into it. As a young pastor’s wife myself, I could appreciate the many pressures and temptations that the young couple in ministry were facing, having already experienced some of them myself. This book speaks truth for all Christians though, not just those in full-time vocational ministry and is a wonderful illustration of our call to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly.

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society Book ImageThe Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

As a Guernsey girl I admit I was slightly nervous to read this book in case I was disappointed by it’s portrayal of Guernsey life, but it turns out I need not have been nervous.  The authors have captured both occupied Guernsey and the post war period incredibly well and I found the book hard to put down. Without giving to much of the story away, the main character Juliet finds herself in Guernsey following a brief correspondence with the Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society members, who are all rather lovable and incredibly quirky. She hopes to write a book about island life during the German occupation from 1940-1945, so is on island to interview members of the society. She inevitably falls in love with the island, just as the author, Mary Ann Shaffer did all those years before. It truly is a delightful read that also touches on some of the heartbreaking truths of the war. This book is perfect for letter lovers and history enthusiasts of which I am both, it will leave you uplifted and in need of your own literary society.

What books have you been reading lately?

{My One Word} Discipline

The Open Home 592

This year I decided to get in on the whole one word for the year thing.

The idea is to change your life with just one word. To skip the long list of new years resolutions and just pick one guiding word that is at the very essence of what you want to be or achieve throughout the year.

Now I am a big old planner at heart so do enjoy setting a few healthy goals at the start of each year to help me as I journey towards the person I hope to be.

However, this year when setting my goals I started to notice a recurring theme, so much so that choosing  a guiding word to focus my days and encourage me throughout the year made so much sense.


Nothing fancy, pretty unoriginal really, but it’s the word for me.

So we’ll see how it goes! By the end of 2016 I hope that my 365 days with a focus on discipline will have helped me to establish the habits that will enable me to live a fuller, healthier and more intentional life.

For more info or to pick your guiding word for the year check out these sites HERE and HERE.

Do you have a guiding word for 2016?

16 Facts You May Not Know About Me

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It’s still the first month of the year so in honour of 2016 here are 16 things you may not know about me… enjoy!

  1. I have been a vegetarian since I was 11 years old – simply because I don’t like the texture and taste of most meat.
  2. I love a good murder mystery, Agatha Christie’s Poirot is my favourite.
  3. I talk about names a LOT. The meanings of them, why people choose them, what names go well together, etc
  4. I think all the best animals have big ears – donkeys, rabbits, elephants… I rest my case.
  5. I’m a geek and love the timey-wimey-ness of Doctor Who and kinda wish I lived in Hobbiton.
  6. Bats and crabs freak me out.
  7. I make a miserable shopping companion, my Mother will confirm this. MISERABLE!
  8. I don’t drink tea or coffee.
  9. My dream holiday destinations are New Zealand, Hawaii and Alaska.
  10. Autumn is my favourite season (and Summer my least favourite).
  11. I don’t wear black, I’m far too pale and look ill in it.
  12. My favourite Disney film is Tarzan.
  13. If you want to send me flowers I particularly like freesias and tulips.
  14. One day I want to get a British Bulldog and call him Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.
  15. I have visited 20 European countries to date (and really must do a post about my favourites!)
  16. I’m an ISFJ for those of you who speak Myers Briggs.

Tell me something I may not know about you?