Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Pedal Power

Back in March I mentioned that my neighbour Brooke has a new Tomcat bike. These are specially adapted for children and young people with mobility issues.

It's Brooke's first bike since she was 7 - and she's now a teenager. It was partially funded by the Children Today Charity [Brooke's story here]

Brooke wanted to give something back, so recently did a sponsored ride round the beautiful Eaton Park in Norwich, in support of the charity. 

This story has been picked up by the local paper and she and her hard working and supportive Mum will be interviewed on Radio Norfolk today. 
I feel so privileged to know this determined young woman who refuses to let disability stop her showing love and concern for others.

When I hear people moaning about "wretched teenagers" who [allegedly] drop litter, spray graffiti and disrespect others I presume they've not actually encountered many - and certainly not cheerful, friendly ones like my friend Brooke. Thanks Brooke, you are an inspiration! [thanks Justine for photos] 

Monday, 14 June 2021

The Joy Of Mendfulness

No, not a misprint- I came across this word, a hybrid of mending and mindfulness, in a library book I have just read, called Mending Matters.

The author, Katrina Rodabaugh, tells how in 2013, she embarked on a "Make, thrift, mend" project - vowing not to buy new clothing for a year. A 'fashion fast' when she would pause her clothing consumption, and include her wardrobe in her attempts at green living. She embraced the concept of Slow Fashion

Katrina - an artist by trade, and a young mother - found the whole experience life-changing. She moved 3000 miles across the USA to build a new life in a 200 year old farmhouse.

KR uses traditional methods- European darning, American patchwork, Japanese sashiko and Indian Kantha quilting - to repair damaged garments. Sometimes 'invisible' mends - other times turning the fix into a decorative part of the garment. 

If you ignore the term 'mendfulness' [which I personally find a little too contrived] the book itself has some good ideas in it - backed up with a great layout, well planned sections, and superb photography and instructions. It is lovely to flick through - a blend of black white and indigo!

Each technique begins with a description, and list of equipment needed- then is followed by a series of carefully worded instructions and accompanying photographs. 

I really enjoyed the book - my only issue is that her wardrobe seems to be entirely composed of denim or natural linen. - jeans, jackets, shirts and smocks. Many of us [precovid] have worked in environments where the dress code was 'no denim'. I have tended towards owning 'a smart pair of jeans' which then became 'tatty odd-job working jeans' - so a stack of seven pairs [as on her cover] wouldn't ever feature in my wardrobe. Maybe her follow up book [called, unsurprisingly, "Make Thrift Mend"] will be a little more colourful, with its themes of "stitch, patch, darn and dye"

A very interesting read - but that awful hybrid word, and tight focus on denim mean I rate it ****

My second library book on the mending theme was this one by Japanese writer Noriko Misumi from Tuttle Publishing. TP has been around since 1832, based in Vermont. Their aim is "to create books which bring people together one page at a time... focusing on informing the English speaking world about the countries and peoples of Asia" They have produced thousands of books on all topics ranging from martial arts to papercraft.

Noriko runs mending workshops - and so the book is full of examples of 'consultations' - showing how she has demonstrated both 'invisible' and 'statement' techniques. Again, well written instructions and clear photographs make these projects easy to follow and replicate. 

She uses a lot of needle-felting to repair woollen garments - and 'playful motifs' [kittens, balloons, dogs etc]  and is very fond of making patches using colourful crochet squares [see cover picture of denim jacket] 

Her section on darning is well written [I was taught to darn when I was about 8 - and I think this skill is sadly neglected]

However I am not convinced that a hole under the armpit needs to be mended with an obvious darn in a different colour! Her techniques include darning, crochet, patchwork, felting, sashiko and rug-hooking

She says "Joy is not simply a passive experience of pleasure, but an active participation in the creation of pleasure. Sharing that kind of joy makes me very happy"
I'm still pondering on that statement. I do know that mending - and therefore saving -  a garment, especially when it is a favourite piece belonging to someone else, gives me a great deal of joy.

I also rate this one ****

Realising that long straight rows of stitching requires a longer needle, I have treated myself to a pack of needles. Now I am checking out the contents of our newly built wardrobes [thank you Bob] to see if I can find anything that is worn and in need of decorative repair. But before that, I have three garments from family members needing discreet, invisible fixing. My brother will not thank me for sending back his smart jacket repaired with rows of purple stitching, or a cheerful puppy embroidery!

Sunday, 13 June 2021

A Weekend In Cornwall


Praying for all those involved in the G7 summit. 

May those who have the wealth and the power to make a difference also have the wisdom and grace to work together for good outcomes, which benefit the poor and the weak.

Saturday, 12 June 2021

His And Hers?

My parents and grandparents were amazing people. They taught me many things- and one of them was their belief that men and women should not be stereotyped. Women could preach, and wield power tools - and men could cook and sew, and work in the 'caring' professions. Gentleness is not just for women - and violence is not manly [it's not right for anybody

My daughters are raising their children in the same way. I recently came across this poster and accompanying article and thought it contained some good ideas worth sharing.

Sociologist Dr Finn Mackay, who designed the poster says this

"Tell your girls to be adventurous, let them climb trees without telling them to be careful at every branch. Buy trucks and bricks for your girls because they might be architects one day, or racing drivers. Hug your boys, comfort them when they are upset, tell them they are beautiful. Buy dolls for your boys because they might be fathers or carers one day, or nursery teachers. 

When we look at the problems we have in the world, which will be imposed on our children, it is clear we all, as communities, need to raise change-makers, peace-makers and souls with gentle hearts and strong minds."

Friday, 11 June 2021

Best Leftovers Ever!

Searching through Netflix for an interesting cookery/craft/homes type programme, I came across something called "Best Leftovers Ever!" I thought that sounded worth checking out - especially as it mentioned that Rosemary Shrager was involved. RS is a very British sort of cook. She's done all sorts of programmes, including an interesting one about the cuisine of the Royal Palaces [with Michael Buerk] and I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here [which I cannot comment on, because that is a show I never watch] Anyway, here's the trailer

Suffice it to say, having watched programme 1 and half programme 2, I realised I had seen enough!  The presenter - who admitted to knowing nothing about cooking [I don't know about beef stroganoff, what is it?], kept making dreadful jokes about her cash-erole prize. 

Yes, they did come up with innovative ways to use the leftovers presented to them. But if you need to use lots of cream and other expensive ingredients, and then just add a spoonful or two of the leftover, have you really transformed it?  Making a few cold chips [fries] into gnocchi by mashing them with a bowlful of fresh potatoes seems daft. And these were not the sort of leftovers I have in my fridge anyway. They did enjoy making fun of RS and her Britishness, contestants imitating her accent and struggling to pronounce Worcestershire Sauce. [I say "Wooster"] She was wearing her chef's jacket with top button undone, showing her classic pearl necklace. Bob decided that Prue, Delia and Mary can't have been available... It wasn't exactly top-class TV.

At the weekend, I had a leftovers challenge of my own. Steph and co arrived with a bag of food - mainly the contents of that week's veg box, but also a few items for George, and non dairy 'milk' and spreads for Gaz, who is lactose intolerant. There was a lot of food around, and things got a bit muddled. And when they came to leave, she suggested I keep the food, as it wouldn't travel back to Manchester well. On Saturday morning, I emptied the fridge contents onto the worktop and sorted out what was definitely old and in need of throwing out [fortunately not much** - a small box of leftover salad which had got hidden at the back, and a pot of beaten egg, half of which had been used to glaze pastry - the remainder had congealed]  We have lots of cheese and tomatoes!

I wiped down all the shelves and containers, and concluded the prime candidates for immediate use were a fresh pineapple, and some Frubes. I had not encountered these before - strange tubes of yogurt for children - rip off the end, and suck out the contents. I suppose this makes school lunchboxes easier - no teaspoons to lose, or sticky little tubs. But I did think, as I looked at the box, that the Frubes man looked very like the Peperami Animal. Bob agreed.

I peeled the pineapple - I needed to cut out a few bruised bits, and ended up with around 335 gm of fruit. I found a recipe online for pineapple cake [here]

I decided that I could make just half the quantity, and that I would [a] skip the frosting and [b] use my small 6-cup Bundt tin.  I made the mixture, and had a little too much for the tin - so put the remainder into a small loaf pan.  

This is my usual way of using up surplus spongecake mix - you can always use a slice of sponge cake as an impromptu dessert. And a Bundt cake needs no icing, just a snowy frosting of icing sugar

It does look good doesn't it? But I have a confession...It tasted fine, but rather squidgy. It was my own fault. The recipe needs a can of crushed pineapple - including the juice. This was a fresh pineapple. So I just slung it all in the food processor and whizzed it together. That's the equivalent of 'crushed' isn't it?

With hindsight. I should have whizzed everything except the fruit [which I had already peeled, sliced and diced] and then folded in the pineapple pieces at the end. But it tasted fine, and Bob had second helpings...

The remainder of the fruit I diced and divided between two little bowls, and squeezed a Frube over each one. Well chilled they made another good dessert. 

Unlike Dorset, Norfolk binmen do not collect food waste separately, so I am working on filling my new compost bin. Kezzie, you would be proud of me - I'm chopping up peel from fruits so it rots quicker, and cutting the teabags and emptying the contents into the bin, putting the empty non-compostable bags in the regular bin. [but, I am not ready to go over to loose leaf tea just yet] Since retiring, Bob's had more time to share in the cooking - he made some fab croutons from leftover crusts the other week, and next day remembered to put the veg trimmings in a box to make stock later.

**there was a small, unlabelled bottle of purple liquid in the door-shelf. Was it sloe gin? or a leftover glass of red wine I'd intended to use in a casserole? I got Bob to check. He concluded it was definitely not alcohol, and probably Ribena I'd diluted for Rosie and she had not drunk it. We decided it wasn't worth keeping! 

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Unicorns And Cucumbers

Rosie really did need a haircut- it was getting straggly and easily tangled and the ends were split. When we went out for Liz's birthday lunch, Liz put it into a very neat French plait. But as the day for the haircut approached, the young lady concerned started getting nervous.

Her wise Mum suggested that as this was a Rather Grown Up Thing to do, to go to the hairdressers, they should make a proper day of it. A Spa Day in fact. So into Norwich on the bus, for the haircut [that went ok] 

Then to the Lush Shop to purchase a Unicorn Horn Bath Bombe.
Lunch with the family in Middletons - where the service was excellent, the prix fixe menu very good - and children's menu superb value. Rosie was happy to colour in the menu sheet, and do the word puzzles on it with Grandad, as we waited for our food.

When she got home, her Spa Day included the fancy bubble bath - and proper Beauty Treatment for her eyes! I don't know how she found out about cucumber eye masks- but Mum obliged.

Clockwise from top left

1 - Colouring the week before the trim. Straggly unmanageable locks.
2 - French plait for Sunday Lunch [charmante et chic] 
3 - After-cut - still curly, just a little shorter, much better condition.
4 - Spa Day Treat [unicorns and cucumbers]

Once again Liz has deftly steered Rosie through another stage of growing up. This time last year, she was a pre-schooler, about to start Grandma's Nursery School. Now she's a confident 5 year old, almost at the end of Reception Year at school. Ready to be a Big Sister.

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

I Had To Leave Him With Her!

On Monday I went off to Norwich [with Bus Pass- it took 90 minutes]] to see the Norfolk Maker's Festival in The Forum. Much of it was given over to Margaret Seaman's knitted creations - but there were other things too. Captain Sir Tom was there to greet us on arrival.

Many craft groups have not met during the Pandemic so I guess there were fewer entries this year. One of the secondary schools had submitted a collection of clay figures on the theme of 'Emotions -what I am feeling right now' [Click on the pictures for a larger image]

Another sewing group had produced a "Coronaquilt"

Some squares full of hope, others joking about the restrictions, others acknowledging the separation from loved ones

Postcards and embroidery hoops [these were on a 'sea' theme] made for consistent sizes for the displays

Four friends got together to produce  Christmas decorations, because they would not be with friends and family to celebrate [I had been looking at Xmas polyhedra on Pinterest recently - these gave me further ideas]

There were three worthy winners of the Costume and Textile Association 'scarf' competition. The 'eco' theme included Marine Conservation up on the coast, the Peregrine Falcons nesting on the Cathedral, and increased cycle provision in the city.

And then of course there was all Margaret's fundraising stuff
The Knittingale Hospital 
And Great Yarmouth seafront back in the 60s
Up close, one is aware of the intricate detail. Textures, brickwork, foliage, and clever use of different techniques [pompoms, french knitting, cable, moss, stocking stitch, fancy yarns...]
Here's Margaret beside Sandringham...
I remarked to her that I had noticed Prince Philip was still standing on the balcony with the Queen. "Yes" said Margaret wistfully "I had to leave him with her - I couldn't bear to separate them" How sweet!
I had a great morning, and picked up two craft books in the library [also housed in the Forum building] 
I got the fast bus back to Dereham [30 minutes] where Bob met me and we enjoyed coffee and cake in Costa!