Saturday, 28 November 2015

Atishoo! [Thrift Is Not To Be Sneezed At]

Reduce-Reuse-Recycle-Facts-2Somebody was talking about an elderly relative who ironed and re-used wrapping paper. “Why bother? It is so cheap!” said somebody else. Not wishing to cause dissent, I sat silently – but sometimes it is worth bothering. I need lots of tissue paper to wrap my Christmas gifts this year.

But I haven’t bought any – it is all recycled. That saves money, saves trees, and helps save the planet! In the 1980s, when it first came out, I used to buy Prima magazine, which always had a large sheet of tissue, printed [double sided] with patterns and charts on it. I made the children’s dresses, toys, knitwear, gifts…

early prima

They were all kept stacked in a box. Then when before left London in 1995, I culled them – I kept the tissue patterns I thought I might use, plus the odd pages from the magazine which had instructions, and filed them in plastic pockets in a huge loose-leaf arch file. For twenty years I have referred to this file – particularly when needing patterns suitable for school play costumes.

But before this last move, I decided to cull again – and just retained half a dozen patterns which I had used and thought worth keeping. The discarded tissue and magazine pages provided wrapping for my best china. When we got here, I unpacked, and threw the screwed up pages in the recycling – but ironed all those tissue sheets.


They have provided an excellent wrapping material – especially the ones with charts on – they have a lot of blue or red print. The gifts are going in carrier bags, or having an outer wrap of Christmas paper – but it is satisfying to think these patterns have had two or three uses before going into the recycling bin.


Friday, 27 November 2015

Soup, Beautiful Soup

P1020624We cleared the remaining veg from the raised bed. The salsify was pencil thin, and the half dozen carrots were very small – but we harvested them anyway. Next year I hope to get a bigger harvest.

P1020625But the escarole had gone wild – completely bolted. I cut it all down, and trimmed off a washing-up bowl full of leaves.

“That ought to make plenty of soup” said Bob. So I looked at the Fern Verrow Cookbook, which I had just collected from the library, and decided that the Nettle Soup Recipe would be a good starting point.

fern verrowP1020626


Here it is. It’s a tiny bit too salty [my mistake] but rich and green and comforting on a cold day. And made entirely from ingredients I had to hand – six generous portions.  We ate them promptly – I didn’t want to freeze the soup for fear of intensifying the saltiness.


Do you like my lovely cookbook stand? – I have wanted one like this for years, and spent part of my  Lakeland [birthday gift] Token on it. It is efficient, stable and does what just I want!

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Double Diamond Works Wonders

News this week that some blokes up north are planning to revive the old beer, but under a new name [Dual Diamond]

double diamond

Not being a beer drinker, this is of little interest [but I am old enough to remember the advertising jingle] and furthermore, I do not want to be involved in the production of any more diamonds for at least a year [or bunting either]

P1020656All forty of the ones for the Christmas Tree Festival have been returned – just a few needed a little bit of finishing off – but they are in the box, ready for 1st December.



I also made a star for the top of the tree [the other side is the same, but stitched in green] Well done to the 3 dozen people in the team. Somebody asked me if there would be any on sale at our Christmas Fair on Dec 5th. So I thought I should probably make some for my craft stall.


These are slightly small than the ones we made at church, all Christmas fabrics – but not all in green/red – and they have beaded trims. I put one or two word slogans on – love, peace, joy, Noel etc I can’t decide what my selling price should be though.P1020662 Suggestions?

Once everything was done, I took my original prototype diamond, and cross stitched a label for it, so that I have a new decoration for my tree here. And that’s it! No more of these, I am going cross eyed!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


I have always hankered after becoming…


…but my family will tell you that I am really…


…however, today I have finally found the box of Christmas Cards [it was there all the time, I thought it was full of light bulbs, but had not opened it to check] and in the hunt also discovered my Christmas wrapping paper, and a couple of Stocking Filler gifts I bought for Liz and Steph months ago [before the wedding] and had completely forgotten about.

I may yet be ready to be


I am feeling quite euphoric at all these discoveries. But if only I was tidier, these things would not get mislaid in the first place.

As I Was Going To St Ives…

…I met a man with seven wives

poemNo I didn’t - I met my friends and colleagues on the Women’s World Day of Prayer Committee, so we could plan the service for March 2016 [yes, we prepare well in advance]

We stayed at the lovely Treloyhan Manor.

My first floor bedroom had a sea view over the trees [when it wasn’t dark or foggy]



Although we worked very hard most of the time, we did have some free time on Wednesday and so walked down the path to the beach and along into the town. We past the Huer’s House



The huer's job was to watch for the tell tale signs of pilchard shoals and then alert the townsfolk to their arrival. Upon spotting such a shoal the huer would alert the town with cries of 'Hevva, Hevva!' ('Here they are!') where upon the townsfolk would drop everything to rush down to the harbour to launch the fleet and prepare for to land the tons of fish.

Spotting the pilchards was not the end of the huer's duties - once the fishing boats were in position the huer would also direct the movement of the boats at sea. His semaphore-like signals made with two 'bushes' - originally small furze bushes covered with cloth - were clearly visible from the water. The bushes were sometimes used to signal news to local men on passing ships too, like the birth of a child to their wives! [hue means shout – as in hue and cry] I recall that they watched for the pilchards in Poldark [I hear there is a second series in production – due for broadcast next May/June. Various new characters, including Hugh Skinner from W1A]

Further on down the path, we saw a bench, with a plaque [with a superfluous apostrophe]



Sadly the Tate Gallery was closed for refurbishment, but we found a Barbara Hepworth Sculpture outside the Guildhall. I liked the red phonebox on the hill.P1020596P1020598

Such fun, looking out to sea – and looking down to the beach where the lifeboat was being towed along the sand.

I was sorry not to have longer to look round the town, it seemed a really interesting place – but we had to get back to Treloyhan Manor.

At least the rain stopped for our afternoon stroll!P1020601

Two signs inside Treloyhan Manor amused me-


Firstly this one – since when did ‘teabags’ count as ‘sanitary disposables’?

And the other thing that made me smile was the labelling on the sound system – Quiet, Normal, and Too Loud!P1020616

It is a shame that St Ives is such a long way away – I should love to go again sometime. Maybe I could combine it with a visit to the Eden Project and to my Cornish friends. Our menu did not include pilchards – but we did have Cornish butter, Cornish Ice Cream and [of course] Rodda’s Cornish Clotted Cream.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Seasonal Saturday Supper


Last weekend, my friend Nadia, with others, organised a Women’s Night at Church. It had an autumnal theme. We were welcomed with a choice of two mulled fruit punches or cool elderflower cordial.

The tables had been decorated with pine cones, twigs, berries, and autumn leaves – with hessian runners and slices of logs to add more interest



cakeP1020634Music throughout the evening was provided by TraceyAnne and Arthur. We began with a choice of four soups.

Leek and stilton, vegetable, chicken, and mushroom – all served with a basket of assorted breads, and fresh butter, and croutons.

Dessert was an astounding array of cakes and puddings. While we drank our coffee, we listened to Dianne, our after dinner speaker. She is a Salvation Army Officer – and told us great stories about her work with the children in Nigeria. Some sad tales, but much laughter too. Everyone enjoyed her enthusiasm and infectious humour. She was an excellent speaker and knew how to keep our attention.


aline broochesP1020642


We finished our evening making button craft pictures – the text says There is a right time for everything, Everything on earth has its special season.




Penny had made beautiful oak&acorn brooches- each guest received one as a parting gift.

It was good fun, I met some new people, and really enjoyed myself. And yes, the logs and hessian runners were the same ones we used at Steph’s wedding – and yes I did supply all the buttons for the craftwork! But apart from that, my input was minimal. Each table had a ‘hostess’ and they were the people who had so worked hard to put it all together. Thank you, friends! There were around 40 of us present – including lots of people I didn’t know. Teenagers Rebekah and Sarah were super waitresses, TraceyAnne and Arthur provided a good mix of music [well done A, for being the only man present!]

Monday, 23 November 2015

RACK Your Brains!**


In an attempt to prevent chocolate overload, many people now choose an Advent Calendar which has family activities. Things to do, not sugar to eat!

I particularly liked the idea of having 24 Random Acts Of Christmas Kindness. You have a list like the one below, then each day try and do one of the things on the list and tick it off. Here’s a sample list of the sort I mean.

1. Give up your place in a queue to the person behind

2. Take a Christmas card into a shop you use regularly and thank the staff for all their help

3. Tell jokes to make someone smile.

4. If you buy a coffee, pay for the person behind you in the queue as well

5. Send a thank you note to someone at Church who has worked hard all year.

6. Wash somebody else’s car for them

7. Offer to child-mind for a young Mum so she can go Christmas shopping in peace

8. Bake a cake or biscuits for a neighbour

9. Give someone a hug, just because…

10. Send a card to somebody who gives up their Christmas Day to provide a lunch for others [and include a £5]

11. Telephone or email an old friend you have not spoken to in a while

12. Donate food to a local food bank, or your church ‘Blessing Bin’

13. Take a hot drink to someone who is standing out in the cold collecting for charity.

14. Put your change into the shop’s charity box in the next time you buy with cash

15. Offer to help a housebound friend with Christmas shopping

16. When you return library books, include a card for the library staff

17. Sweep leaves, move bins, or do another task for a neighbour

18. Pick up at least three pieces of litter on your next walk

19. Make up a box of goods to take to a charity shop

20. Take a some [recent, not dog-eared!] magazines to the waiting room at the doctor or dentist

21. Send a thank you note to someone at Church who has worked hard all year.

22. Donate a can of dog food to the animal shelter

23. Make a Christmas decoration – and give it to someone else

24. Take some sweets or biscuits to the Fire Station or Police Station – they have to work on Christmas Day


Over at Coffee Cups And Crayons you can find some good printables to make Advent Calendars like this. The activities can obviously be adapted to be appropriate for children or adults.

**RACK in this expression can be spelt rack or wrack, the dictionary says.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

November 22nd – 52 Years Ago

I remember exactly where I was when I heard John F Kennedy had been assassinated [at home with my Mum, and my father came home from Boys’ Brigade and told us] I was just eight at the time, but i realised this was a major world event.


One wonders how things would have gone if he had lived longer, and had more years serving as the President. He and Jackie were truly the ‘golden couple’ who brought Camelot to the White House.

jfk and jackie

He was certainly a powerful orator – and I have chosen a few thought-provoking quotes – which still challenge us today, half a century later.

  • As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
  • Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind
  • My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.
  • If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
  • If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.
  • Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.