Sunday, 15 July 2018

Coming Home

Belonging to a loving family is such a precious blessing. I think I will treasure forever the memory of last Sunday morning when Rosie ran into the room and saw her grandfather sitting on the sofa. Her face lit up, and she shouted "Grandad Bob! I missed you today!"
In the last couple of weeks, I've been moved to tears of joy by the news from Thailand of the cave rescue - pictures of parents waiting anxiously, and news reports about the difficulty of the rescue. All 12 boys, and their coach are now out of the cave. The oxygen supplies ran out as the operation ended. What a great story!

I have also wept to see videos of children taken from their parents at the US border, being reunited with their families.
Spare half a minute to watch this clip

But I also shed tears of anger and frustration that there are hundreds of families separated by this cruel US policy and inefficient administration. For many reasons - but especially this one, I went to the protest on Friday.
I find this sculpture by Charlie Mackesy depicting the return of the lost son to his loving father deeply moving.
This is what I believe - that God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son - to restore that relationship, to bring us home...
...and I believe that I should work to bring children home - by speaking out against the unjust separation of children and families,  by praying for those who are lost - to help reunite families by whatever means I can.
The Thai cave rescue was not easy - and one brave man lost his life. If every person who reads this post sent just £2 to the British Cave Rescue Council, it would make such a difference. 

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Going MAD In West Moors

West Moors is just up the road. Our Church is part of the local Churches Together group there [and since January I have been Chair of the local CT committee] The WM Parish Council asked us if we would like to have a stand at the MAD event [that's Multi Activity Day] Of course, we said we would - but that means a bit of organising.
Ruth the Curate suggested a 'Living Room' - just a simple space under the gazebo, where people could sit, and rest and enjoy a drink of water. So I made the bunting. We are also going to give a way decorate cards, and Hope Stones. I have used the stones at similar events in the past and they have always proved popular.

I suspect I shall be very tired tonight!
Update on yesterday's Protest - it was utterly brilliant, if rather hot. Thanks so much for all the supportive comments both on the blog and on Facebook.Liz wisely left Rosie in the UCL Nursery. I am SO glad I went- and will post pictures next week. This morning I am up early [yet again] and will be busy all day! 

Friday, 13 July 2018

I Protest

Psalm 82:3 says 
"Stand up for the poor and the fatherless, advocate for the rights of the afflicted, and for those in need"
Today I shall be standing in London with Liz and Rosie, to express my concern for all those who have been afflicted by the policies and practices of Donald Trump and his Administration, especially innocent children.
And also for all those in this country who will be affected by the inevitable budget cuts after our Government has spent £5million of taxpayers' money on providing police protection for him, so he can go to Scotland simply to play golf.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Worcester Wildlife!

On our way back from Manchester in Monday morning, we stopped at the motorway services. I picked up a free Waitrose Weekend paper, and read that the Norwich Sculpture Trail had opened over the weekend. This year their theme is GoGo Hares. It will still be there in August so I'll enjoy looking at the animals - the dragons, gorillas and other creatures have been brilliant in previous years.
Bob and I had decided we'd divert a little and stop in Worcester for lunch. As we emerged from the multi-storey carpark by the Cathedral, we encountered a giraffe! It was the first day of the Worcester Summer Sculpture Trail. I confess that I squealed with excitement!
The theme is Worcester Stands Tall and the trail, and associated maps and merchandise are all part of a fund-raiser for the local St Richard's Hospice. We saw lots of the animals as we strolled round the city.
I liked the one celebrating the lovely orchard fruits grown locally, and another 'tactile' one covered in raised items, including strips of braille, designed to be appreciated by the visually impaired. 

The sun was bright and hot - but an enthusiastic lady from the G-Tech company [a local firm] encouraged us to take selfies with her giraffe. "Follow us and tweet it, to win a cache of GTech goodies" she said [do I need another vacuum cleaner?]

I love these trails- the local people really get involved, the children like them - and they do so much to raise money for good causes. People are so creative in the ways they decorate and personalise their animal.
I'm fascinated too that the old name for the giraffe was the camelopard - because people thought it was shaped vaguely like a camel, but had spotty skin like a leopard.
Another old name is the zurnapa- from the Persian words for flute - zurna, and leg - pa. No I don't understand it either. Giraffe is a French word, believed to come from the Arabic zarafa - but nobody seems really sure about all this!

Do you have one of the trails in your city? 
or have you seen one on holiday? 
What animals were depicted?

And if you click on THIS LINK you can see Bob and me being famous for five seconds!

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Struggling To Spend A Penny

I'm being super careful about grocery spending as usual, but realise that my shopping patterns have changed significantly since moving to Ferndown. When we left Kirby Muxloe I was usually shopping in Aldi every week or so, topping up with stuff from the larger Sainsbury's [particularly teabags and coffee]
Here I find myself mostly at Lidl, with fresh produce at least once a month from Wimborne Market, usually followed by a quick foray into nearby Waitrose. My Fairtrade teabags are now bought in the Co-op and milk from the M&S FoodHall round the corner. And just occasionally I'll wander round Ferndown Tesco. 
I was recently given a Love To Shop £20 giftcard as a reward for doing some market research. This has been used exclusively in M&S, for bread and milk [and the occasional treat, like croissants, or cashew butter] But the rules are a bit complicated - you can only spend up to the value of the card. That means I now have a card worth just 1p and I don't think I can find anything that cheap in M&S. Tesco just sent me a £4 off a £30 spend voucher 
Unexpectedly,  Always sent me 3 vouchers for FREE sanpro worth £13. I didn't need the sanpro but purchased it anyway, along with £17 worth of carefully chosen Tesco groceries. I ended up paying £13 at the checkout [and put the sanpro in the Foodbank's Blessings Bin at church] 
My last trip to Waitrose resulted in a basket of yellow stickered items costing around £6. I wanted a coffee**, and treated myself to a pretty 'Grandma' mug for £2. A newspaper tipped the total just over the £10 mark. At which point I paid up - my coffee was free, and I got the newspaper and the carpark called costs refunded. This all adds up to £60 of purchases, which have cost me around £20. I feel very satisfied with this. 
Then - because my tablet died and John Lewis did the best deal on replacements - I got extra JL loyalty points, so a £5 JL/Waitrose voucher has just arrived. That can be used on my next Wimborne trip, and the Savvy Shopper Saga will continue [When are Channel 4 going to ask me to make a programme about money saving? I'm just as smart as some of the women they have on there!] 
**Waitrose are moving over to a policy of only giving free coffee if you have your own mug, I usually take my thermal cup on a Friday, but I'd forgotten - and I didn't want a single use non recyclable one.
I'm keeping the giftcard in my purse, just in case I find a 1p bargain!

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Dotting The Eyes

Why did Ofsted fail the cross-eyed teacher?. ..because she couldn't control her pupils.
I'm busy helping Miriam, our Youth Minister, to prepare the crafts for Kids' Club. Someone gave us some boxes of Candy Canes. So we are using them to make reindeer [just don't ask me to explain why]
I  needed 300 very small eyes. However past experience has shown that the children really struggle to peel off the tiny circles on the back of googly eyes in order to expose the adhesive.
I suggested we bought eyes on sheets which are easier to use. 
But these eyes are expensive. A local craft store wanted £3 for a sheet of 65. No way am I spending £15 on stick-on eyes.
But in the scrapbooking embellishments section, I found half-pearls. 372 of them on a sheet for just £1.50.
That's less than 1p per reindeer! 
It didn't take long with a Sharpie to draw in the pupils.
I know lots of you do kids' craft so I thought this was a thrifty tip worth sharing.
Last month I heard from Sarah, a missionary working in Thailand. She'd seen a picture of a children's Bible craft on Pinterest, traced it back to my blog, and contacted me to ask if I could send her a template. It was from 2014, but I still have it on file, so was happy to help.

What did Santa say to his wife when he looked out of the window?
"It looks like rain, dear" 

Monday, 9 July 2018

Child's Play

A few weeks back I posted a teaser about some crafts I had been doing. Now all can be revealed...
Steph and Gary's wedding barbecue included three very important guests- their nieces, Ava, Elodie, and Rosie.
As they'd missed the actual ceremony, I thought it would be good to make them 'busy bags' to keep them occupied during the afternoon of the BBQ [I didn't expect these young ladies would be glued to the football on TV after all]
So I made every girl a labelled bag - each containing bride and groom hand puppets [featuring Steph's pretty shoes, and Gary's amazing striped socks] and a tiny pouch holding a pair of rabbit finger puppets [Geoff and Jim, the famous Brotherton Bunnies] along with a pot of bubbles to create sparkly bubbles in the sunshine. Elodie is the youngest niece, so she and 4 month old baby Thomas also get their own embroidered bandanas.

 A warren of rabbits
Creating those pink and purple striped socks was a  real challenge, I ended up colouring the fabric with a Sharpie

But I handled it OK. Sadly Ava and Elodie got a sickness bug and in the end they missed the party - but at least they have the bags to enjoy. Rosie was very taken with the puppets. They were a good entertainment for her during the football. 

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Thinking Outside the Box

Perhaps I shouldn't have gone into the Community Centre - but the sign said "Sale of Crafting Materials". Inside there were around twenty ladies, all trying to reduce their stash. I dithered and wondered and then purchased a "We R Memory Keepers" item called a Box Punch Board.
This very nifty little gadget makes gift boxes in lots of different sizes.
And I could see it proving very useful [and it was less than half the price of new- but hadn't been used] I got into conversation with the stallholder. 
When I got home, I tried it out and made boxes in 3 different sizes - but each one from an 8" square of paper. [this is an internet picture] I told Bob the lady had a few other We R MK punch boards, but I had been very restrained, only getting the one I felt most useful. But she was back two weeks later at Ferndown Fete right opposite my story tent. She'd reduced her prices still further.
After buying the first board, I'd looked things up on the net, and discovered they are even more versatile than at first appears. So I bought the Candy Box Punch Board. 
These boards are cleverly designed- and have the full instructions printed on them - and they have a built in bone folder/scorer [a bit like a cheese knife, which slides niftily in the side of the board]

You place the card agains the line, punch a hole, and score a fold line...and repeat...and then it folds up into a box. All very well organised engineering.

This is the board which has been busy this week. Instead of making the regular 'candybox' which has gathered in ends like a boiled sweet or a Christmas Cracker, I made flat-bottomed boxes.These are the designs with two ends. Here are others with just one end I found online - these celebrating St Patrick's Day.
The three dozen boxes I have made will be filled with jelly beans and in a basket in Manchester

Following their small, quiet and dignified wedding ceremony in April, Steph and Gary are hosting a Family Barbecue this afternoon. Lots of fun and food [and also football!] I am quite pleased with the little wedding favours I have produced...

Friday, 6 July 2018

Magic Carpets!

Two weeks ago at Kingston Lacy, I pointed out the flooring to my friend Val. "It's really clever, they reproduce the original flooring on canvas or something, and lay that down instead. It looks like the original carpet, and so the room looks historically right- and Joe Public can walk all over it without doing damage to the handknotted Persian rugs or whatever." I'd been told this by an enthusiastic NT guide at some other property.
Then on Tuesday, I met these clever people
They are from the Eyemats company based in Faversham in Kent. These are the ones who originally came up with the idea of this protective replica floorcovering.
They generously gave me a a few minutes of time to explain their craft as they laid down the carpet cover at Stourhead.
They've been working on this project for some months.
Firstly they photograph the floor covering in situ
Then they reproduce the pattern in sections
Then it is printed on appropriate fabric [canvas, polyester, whatever] which is laminated to a waterproof backing. Usually in large rectangles, sometimes a whole rug.
The two layers are stitched round the edge, because heavy footfall can cause the layers to 'delaminate' and the stitching holds everything together.
The panels are attached with strips of tape. 
Sometimes the mat goes right to the wall - and so the pattern may include floorboard as well as carpet [as in the adjacent room to the one shown] of sometimes the edge of the mat with be bound with twill tape.
This is the Stourhead Music Room - I think that's a wall-to-wall mat, and below another of the Stourhead rooms [these two pictures both from the Eyemats informative website]
Sometimes the original carpet is left underneath, other times it is removed. A felt like underlay goes in place below the Eyemats.
The company cover carpets, floorboards, tiles- and even Roman Mosaics. Even Chedworth Villa, where I went with Bob 18 months ago is using Eyemats.
Technical accuracy is of prime importance- and much care is taken to achieve perfect colour and pattern matching. This is why the company uses their own photography to ensure everything is just right [Eyemat photo]
This is part of a tiled floor in Canterbury Cathedral being prepared.[Eyemat photo]

I love it when thoughtful people come together to produce a creative solution to a difficult problem. Someone concerned for maintaining National Trust properties met up with someone making protective hygienic floorcoverings for the Rentokil company [look, they do much more than just deal with rats, you know - but personally I think they could do with a name-change!]...and as they say, the rest is history!
Thank you Eyemats - it was great to meet you and see you taking genuine pride in your work. Your products definitely enhance the experience of visiting NT properties- but sadly, most people will just trample all over them and barely notice! 

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Three Counties In One Day - Plus Experience Of Another World!

Bob and I seem to be so busy most of the time, so we like to really escape from it all on our day off if we can. On Tuesday we drove north-west, and went into Wiltshire, where we visited beautiful Stourhead - a National Trust Property. Then across into Somerset, to the small town of Wincanton where we had lunch. Down into Dorset to Sturminster Newton for tea and cake. And finally home to Ferndown [around 80 miles travelled]
It was a fabulous day, and we saw so much, met so many interesting people, and ate some great food!
 At Stourhead we encountered a lady cleaning book sin the library - with soft brushes and an amazing contraption involing a cardboard box, gaffer tape, and a vaccuuum cleaner on a tea trolley!
We marvelled at the Pope's Cabinet, and also met some lovely people from Kent. They were so fascinating they're getting their own post later!
We left Stourhead around midday. We figured that if nearby Wincanton had a racecourse, it would also have somewhere for the punters to buy lunch. "What else is it that we know about Wincanton?" said Bob.I wasn't sure, but felt there was something...
But once we arrived, we remembered. Wincanton is twinned with Ankh Morpork. We went into the Discworld Emporium/AM Consulate
Ian Mitchell, the MD was charming, and spent ages discussing Sir Terry Pratchett's books, and the whole Discworld thing with Bob. 
The shop was amazing, and full curios and delightfully quirky items for Pratchett fans of all ages. Bob bought a book and a map.[the SatNav cannot find Ankh Morpork ]
The town has taken the late author and his works to heart - and even named treets on a new development after Discworld Locations.

We had a good lunch in the Nog Pub [Ian's recommendation] Then on to Sturminster Newton - a wander round Harts Kitchen shop, plus a couple of CS, and enjoyed tea and cake in the Poets Corner Cafe
Home safely in time for the 6 o'clock news.
I was so thrilled to hear that they have been able to deliver food and medical supplies to the lads trapped in the cave in Thailand. 
Praying they are home safely soon too

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

The Back Of The Net

Sorry - nothing to do with football! My blogfriend Fishcake has recently moved house, and her frugal Mum found some window nets in a CS. But they were too big, and had to be rehemmed to fit. "What can I do with the trimmings?" Fishcake asked.
Personally I'm not a net curtain type - but often, when I'm given bags of fabric oddments by friends who are decluttering, I find a piece of net that's clearly been trimmed. Here's a few thrifty tips for repurposing such remnants;
In the garden - if you have fruit bushes, you can prevent the birds from eating your currants or whatever if you drape the bushes with net. You may need to sew a few strips together to make a piece that's wide enough for swathing the greenery  - but hey, this isn't the Sewing Bee, the birds may be deterred, but they won't be bothered by your wobbly stitching.
Drink protectors -I bet your great grandmama had one of these - a large square or circle of net will cover your jug of squash and prevent the insects from getting in. Weight it down by sewing a few beads[or buttons, or washers] round the edge. If it is an emergency then just clip half a dozen clothes pegs on to weigh it down.

Bowl cover - "time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana as they say. Make a simple mob cap [tutorial here] from a large circle, and gather it, to make a cover to keep the minibeasts away from the mangoes
Dressing up clothes #1- tutu. Measure the child's waist. Cut a strip at least three times that [four is better] Fold it in half. Sew the side seam to make a tube. Make a casing, and thread elastic through - or gather it and sew along a piece of wide elastic which will act as the waistband.
Dressing up clothes #2 - angel/fairy wings. Sorry, this picture does look like a large diaphanous bra! Measure the child's outstretched arms, wrist to wrist, and add 10cm. Now make two loops of elastic which will sit comfortably on the wrists. Attach these to the two top corners. Gather up the net across the middle of the strip, tie with a bow.. Voila! instant wings. Pin the bow to the childs top to keep the wings from flying off.
Bags -large ones for veg, middle sized ones for keeping lingerie from tangling in the washing machine- and small ones to hold lavender...

For parties and weddings, make 'bonbonierres' to hold sweets  - you can sew them neatly with drawstrings- of for speed, gather up a circle of net and hold in place with an elastic band [at last! a use for those loom bands now lying neglected in the cupboard]
Even the narrowest trimmings can be cut into strips and wound up and stored neatly to make ribbon ties. Use them for tying round gifts or bunches of flowers- or for tying plants to garden stakes.
And don't forget you can use trimmings for collages and card making too
...a dozen uses for the back bottom of the net, which would otherwise have gone in the bin. 
Saving money and saving the planet!
Any other suggestions?

waxwrap update
FC asks below about my wax wraps. Here's an update
I made them in June last year[tutorial here] In January, I noticed the one I used most was developing crease lines and in February, I rewaxed a few of them. 
I discarded one wrap, which was left slightly too long on a cut half of butternut squash [my fault entirely]It developed some black mould spots and I didn't feel happy with it. Otherwise the wraps continue to work very well. My main uses are for sandwiches, cheese, and covering bowls. Following the squash incident I've avoided direct contact with moist produce. Rinsing well in cold/cool water, shaking, and air drying [draped over a bottle]  seems to be adequate maintenance. Store flat with as few folds as possible.